On Tuesday, March 21, the Oklahoma House of Representatives officially declared its support for the sports wagering legislation, giving the act its stamp of approval.
The bill is predicted to provide more than $9 million annually to the state budget.
A great economic opportunity for the state:
The sports wagering legislation, submitted as House Bill 1027 by Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City, ties in-person and mobile sports wagering to a gaming compact that grants exclusive permission to Native American tribes to operate casinos in Oklahoma.
Luttrell is a Cherokee Nation citizen who was previously a co-chair of the House Native American Caucus and now serves on the Executive Committee of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators.
If passed, the state would receive a percentage of gaming income from the tribes. But that’s not all; as tribes that apply sports wagering would pay the state a 4% fee on the first $5 million earned in a month, a 5% fee on the next $5 million and a 6% fee on extra money. Furthermore, the sliding fee system would start again every month.
However, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) projects that sports wagering could generate up to $9,350,000 annually, of which 12% would go into the general profit fund and 88% would go to education.
In this regard, Luttrell said: “Right now, Oklahoma is missing out on a huge financial opportunity for both our state and our tribes. Oklahomans are traveling across state lines to participate in sports betting, and we’re losing those dollars. It makes economic sense to provide sports betting as an option.”
During his discussion of the merits of the measure, Luttrell quoted Kentucky Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland, author of Kentucky’s current sports wagering bill, who said: “Revenue is not the reason I think this is good policy. I think it’s good policy because we’re taking something out of the illegal, unregulated space and creating a regulated marketplace.”
Approval of the act:
The legislation passed the House by a resounding 66-26, however, without a title, meaning it will come back to the House for another vote once it receives official support from the Senate.
On that note, Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, authored the legislation in the Senate.
Sports wagering not the main concern of the Senate:
Although the legislation will go before the Senate, there are chances that the Senate will not approve the act without an in-depth debate.
In this regard, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said: “Like everything, I want to approach it in a methodical manner, but my position has not changed; I’m not interested in moving that by itself.
“I think it needs to be handled in a way that’s respectful of our tribal nations. It needs to be above board and something that is a win-win for the state of Oklahoma and our 39 tribes.”
He determines which legislation comes before the Senate.