- Oklahoma signed new gaming compacts with two tribes back in April, but they were just approved this week after a 45-day review from the Department of the Interior.
- These new gaming compacts would allow for sports betting at all of these tribes’ casinos.
- Prominent political figures in the state still oppose the new gaming compacts and their expansion of gambling rights.
- Sports betting in Oklahoma projects to be worth nearly $100 million annually.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt announced Monday that the U.S. Department of the Interior had approved new gaming compacts with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and the Comanche Nation.
The new compacts will allow the two tribes to offer legal sports betting at their casinos.
The compacts were subjected to a 45-day review period, but the review period expired without issue, and the government cleared Oklahoma for legal sports betting.
The new compacts faced stiff resistance from influential Attorney General Mike Hunter.
Hunter issued his own legal opinion that Stitt had overstepped his authority. He urged the Department of the Interior (DOI) to review the compacts. When reached for comment about the DOI’s decision, Hunter called it “thoughtful and irresponsible.”
The battle to approve sports betting in Oklahoma has been long and fraught. Hunter insists that the Oklahoma Supreme Court still must resolve outstanding judicial issues before the tribes can begin operating under the terms of these new compacts.
The sports betting provision is the most notable aspect of the new compact, but some of the political resistance could also stem from a provision that would allow tribes to build casinos closer to metropolitan areas.
Oklahoma first began signing gaming compacts with tribes in 2005, but their 15-year terms are set to expire in 2020.
In other words, the new gaming compacts for the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation are likely the first of many to come over the next year, and all will likely look to negotiate for the same provisions.
If this happens, Oklahoma could have statewide legal sports betting in 2021. While Oklahoma is one of the smallest states in terms of population, the economic impact of sports betting would still be enormous, especially given the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using an LSB projection model, it is possible to make a rough estimate of the annual financial impact of legal sports betting:
- Handle: $97.1 million
- Revenue: $6.7 million
- Tax Revenue: $887,000
These figures would likely increase substantially in subsequent years, especially if Oklahoma lawmakers move to legalize online sports betting as well.
They could also be inflated by an influx of gambling tourists, particularly those from Texas, where there are no legal sports betting options. This would provide an indirect benefit by injecting even more money into Oklahoma’s admittedly small tourism industry.
All these millions of dollars could be used to help soften the blow of the pandemic on the state budget and pay for improvements to infrastructure, education, and more.
With a dual background in English and sports performance and business analytics, Carter aims to write stories that both engage and inform the reader. He prides himself on his ability to interweave empirical data and traditional narrative storytelling. When he isn’t keeping readers up to date on the latest sports betting legal news, he’s banging his head against a wall regretting his decision to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan.