Oklahoma Still Trying to Figure Out if Voters Want Legal Sports Betting

Oklahoma Still Trying to Figure Out if Voters Want Legal Sports Betting

Lately, there has been no serious movement on the issue of sports betting in Oklahoma. Some think that might soon change. But with legal sports betting now active in a majority of the USA, including many places surrounding Oklahoma, the Sooner State's stance and process seem to be lagging.

Most recently, a bill that would have legalized some forms of sports betting failed to gain any traction during Oklahoma's legislative sessions. Some have posited that's because we're in an election year. People who hold office in government are often reluctant to support or roll out major changes during these times out of fear they'll anger constituents.

This theory has become particularly prevalent in nearby Texas, which aside from California, is the market in which the absence of sports betting has become most glaring. But there has also been push-back to this idea. Select officials don't believe this is an election-year issue. Instead, they believe it has more to do with voters and a lack of feel for what they want.

Indeed, it is this theory that has generated the most discussion in Oklahoma of late. Speaking on both the state of Oklahoma and Texas, Senator Drew Springer indicated there needs to be more research on what the voters want. "What we would like to do is hear from constituents," he said, according to KTEN news in Oklahoma. "That’s what we are; we are representatives, so we really want to know people's opinions,” Springer said. “I’ve had a couple handfuls of people that have written to me over the last few years saying they would like to be able to do online sports betting, but I haven’t heard from an awful lot of people.”

Naturally, this prompts an important question: What is Oklahoma doing to see if their residents support legal sports betting?

Oklahoma Voters Seem to Support Legal Sports Betting

Unlike other states, it does not appear the Oklahoma government or any of the big media outlets have conducted extensive polls on the subject of legal sports betting. Opponents of the issue simply assume a state that skews conservative won't want it. And if they're not arguing that, they're suggesting the state won't earn nearly enough from legal sports betting revenue to justify the leg work involved.

Both of these talking points, however, seem increasingly disingenuous.

Let's start with the prospective interest in betting on sports throughout Oklahoma. Transactions are already taking place, both inside the state and outside of it. Money is, quite literally, walking out of the door. "Oklahomans are getting on the internet every day and placing illegal bets in the sports market," Matthew Morgan, chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, recently said, according to Tulsa World.

Not only that, but residents of Oklahoma have the ability to sign up with one of the sites that appear in our reviews of the top online sportsbooks. They also have the option of making relatively manageable drives to states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Colorado, all of whom have introduced some form of legal sports betting.

What's more, Tulsa World estimates that Oklahoma is missing out on $270 million in additional tax revenue by their failure to approve on-site betting. That projection mushrooms quite a bit if you factor in sports betting policy that allows for online wagering. Sure, these numbers pale in comparison to markets like New York and New Jersey. But when you're talking about nine figures in revenue, the implication is that the majority of your residents support legal sports betting.

Oklahoma Should Actually Do More Research on More Sports Betting

Maybe none of the available information is enough to sway Oklahoma officials who remain against legalized gambling. That's fine.

But that means they should go out and get more information.

Claims that the absence of betting in Oklahoma has more to do with ignorance of what the voters want is absolutely inexcusable. The United States reinvented gambling laws all the way back in 2018. Oklahoma has now had nearly a half-decade to conduct polls and do additional research. That's what places like California, Illinois, Ohio and many others have done in the intervening years.

Is There a Timeline for Sports Gambling in Oklahoma?

On the bright side, it does appear sports betting in Oklahoma will now be discussed with more urgency. The state economy is still somewhat reeling from the global pandemic, and the revenue generated from professional and collegiate sports teams in 2021 was much higher than expected. This suggests there's plenty of money to be made from sports wagering.

Even so, talk of "urgency" isn't enough. Oklahoma actually needs to show it. And they won't get the chance to do so until the next round of legislative sessions.

These meetings will be taking place during the latter half of 2023, and industry experts continue to doubt whether Oklahoma will make sports betting a real priority. Of course, we won't know for certain until the legislative meetings have officially started next year. Either way, though, it's important for Oklahoma sports bettors to remain patient—and to no get their hopes up.

After all, even if Oklahoma passes a sports betting bill in 2023, it will likely be another 18 months from there until the state gets legal gambling up and running.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all of your sports betting needs:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan is a sports betting writer who can tackle any topic from presidential elections to changes in the sports betting legislation federally and on the state level. He also writes picks for NFL.