Oklahoma Makes Late Push for Sports Betting

Oklahoma's House of Representatives voted 66-26 in favor of a HB 1027, a bill that would legalize sports betting and retail wagers through the Sooner State's 35 tribes. The bill now has to garner support from the Senate before the March 27 deadline.

Last Updated: Mar 23, 2023 11:22 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
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Lawmakers in Oklahoma are making a last-second attempt to approve legal sports betting

On Tuesday, the state’s House of Representatives voted 66-26 in favor of House Bill 1027 — a bill that proposes to legalize online sports betting sites and retail wagers through Oklahoma’s 35 tribes. 

“We feel like this is a win-win. What it does is just add sports betting to the games that a tribe can compete with to provide under the gaming compact,” said the bill’s co-sponsor Rep. Ken Luttrell in a statement. “I’m excited that my colleagues saw the economic advantages to this.”

HB 1027 gaining an endorsement from the state’s House comes after the bill passed through its House Appropriations and Budget Committee last month by a 27-4 vote.

Despite the favorable results, HB 1027 still has to garner support on the Senate floor before Oklahoma’s crossover deadline on March 27 — the last day proposed bills can be considered this legislative session. 

How wagering could be regulated

HB 1027 — introduced on February 2 — requires Oklahoma’s tribes to tax sports wagering on a laddered scale. Each tribe, which holds exclusive gaming rights in the state, would pay the state a tax at 4% for the first $5 million, 5% for the following $5 million, then 6% for $10 million or more. Sports betting is projected to add $9 million annually to the state’s budget, per Luttrell.

“That’s money that we want to capture in the state of Oklahoma, said Luttrell. “Keep those kind of dollars here in Oklahoma.”

The revenue from sports betting in Oklahoma would go back to the state’s residents. HB 1027 requires 12% of the tax revenue from wagering to be allocated toward the state’s General Revenue Fund with the remaining 88% to be given to the Education Reform Revolving Fund. 

Nothing new

The Sooner State has been exploring the possibility of legal sports betting for several years. Two tribal compacts included sports betting in 2020, but an Oklahoma court ruled 7-1 against them. Sports betting has failed in Oklahoma due to fears of it damaging the state’s moral fabric. 

“It takes advantage of poor people in order for us to increase our revenue as a state and whoever else is involved,” said Rep. Jim Olsen. “It discourages a proper work ethic.” 

Sports fans in Oklahoma are hoping the state’s Senate has a different perception this week.

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