By Stan Fox / July 7, 2020 July 7, 2020
The state of Oklahoma has inched closer to legalized sports betting as it prepares to move to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the state’s highest legal authority.
As the matter is scheduled to be taken to court next week, it has become a heated issue among the state lawmakers.
The executive move is aimed at approving a variety of games that, until now, have been considered illegal under Oklahoma law into two new tribal compacts.
Governor Kevin Stitt’s move has drawn the anger of those opposed to sports betting, which is also termed as “even wagering” in the new compacts.
Fingers Raised Over Executive Power
The executive move has caused ample controversy as many questions over the Governor’s powers. Many ask whether or not Kevin Stitt has the power to authorize illegal games in compacts.
House Speaker Charles McCall, and Senate President Pro Tempore Great Treat, raised a finger at the Governor, asking whether or not he actually has the authority to legalize a move like this. Besides verbal criticism, both lawmakers took a further step by taking the matter all the way to the state’s Supreme Court to stop the Governor.
Oklahoma’s top court will now determine whether or not the Governor has the authority to make this move legally.
Before Governor’s proactive stance by approving sports betting in the two new compacts in April, there had been little discussion among lawmakers to legalize sports betting. The Governor’s move shocked many lawmakers unprepared for the move.
Attorney General Too Unhappy About the Move
The first opposition to the Governor’s compacts came from Attorney General Mike Hunter, who opined that the Governor doesn’t have the authority to contradict the existing state gaming law in the tribal compacts.
If the verbal opposition did not suffice, AG Hunter also contacted the Department of the Interior to denounce the compacts. The department is responsible for approving all compacts between states and tribal nations.
Despite AG Hunter’s official rejection, the Department of the Interior remained unmoved by choosing to do nothing. Their inaction allowed the compacts to go into effect 45 days later.
Earlier in June, Governor himself sought to squash the issue by asking a Federal court for further clarity. However, no official position was given. While refusing to interfere in the case, the Federal court said it’s a state matter.
Optimism Revives for Legal Sports Betting
The compacts went into effect thanks to the Department of the Interior that chose to do nothing. Then a Federal court excused to interfere in a matter it considered purely belong to the state.
Now that the Governor has crossed two Federal hurdles, optimism seems to revive as all stakeholders await the ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Many hope that it’s a matter of months, if not days before sports betting would be legal in Oklahoma.