(The Center Square) – State Rep. Ken Luttrell said the time is right for Oklahoma to legalize sports betting and has introduced a bill to add sports gambling to the state's tribal gaming compact.
Regulated sports betting could bring in about $240 million in revenue and create more than 3,000 jobs based on a report from the Oxford Economics Group. Sports betting already is happening illegally in the state, Luttrell, R-Ponca City, said in a news release.
"Illegal sports betting occurs throughout Oklahoma, and figures I obtained from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) show 11 offenses recently with tens of thousands of dollars seized," Luttrell said in a news release. "This reflects only a fraction of what actually occurs in our state."
Luttrell did not immediately return a phone call from The Center Square seeking additional comment.
Matthew Morgan, chair of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, said he was aware Luttrell would be introducing the bill but has not had time to poll the state's 35 tribes.
"Each one of them have a unique customer base and niche they fill within that market, so I think you would get different answers depending on the specific tribe that you are looking at and even maybe their specific facilities," Morgan said. "I think we are always forward looking into those possibilities, but no matter what options you look at, I think they have to make economic sense."
Sports betting became legal in the U.S. in 2018 after the Supreme Court removed a ban that prohibited it in all states except Nevada. Thirty states have legalized sports betting, including three states that border Oklahoma, and 15 others are considering it in 2022.
Arkansas legalized sports betting in 2019 in its three casinos, according to the website Legalsportsreport.com. The state has received $1.96 million in tax revenues since July 2019, according to the site. The state Legislature is expected to consider a recommendation by the Arkansas Racing Commission to allow mobile sports betting.
Colorado legalized sports betting in May 2020 and taxes sports betting proceeds at 10%. Colorado has received $13.9 million in revenues from sports betting, according to Legal Sports Report.
Figures from New Mexico, which allows sports betting in some tribal casinos, were not available.
A bill that would legalize sports betting in Kansas failed to make it out of a House committee in 2021. Lawmakers told the Topeka Capital-Journal the issue was over tax revenue. The issue is expected to be discussed again during the 2022 session.
The Oklahoma State Legislature begins its 2022 session Feb. 7. Lawmakers have until Jan. 20 to file bills and resolutions.