According to local news, sports betting could be coming to Oklahoma sooner rather than later as Gov. Kevin Stitt has recently said he's open to making the activity legal. A sports betting bill failed to gain much traction during the 2022 legislative session, despite initial excitement and passing out of committee. However, now with the governor's support, the future seems brighter for the proposal.
"As long as it's transparent and it's fair for Oklahomans, then 100%, I'm absolutely open to it," Stitt told Tulsa-area television station Fox 23 about bringing sports betting to Oklahoma. "And we're actually behind the scenes working on what that looks like for Oklahoma. Like you said, Kansas, New Jersey, multiple other states to look at and see how that thing is set up."
While the sports betting bill failed to get a vote on the floor during the last legislative session, the state representative from Ponca City that pushed for it hasn't given up. Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City, announced Thursday that he has written another bill to legalize sports gambling in Oklahoma. He said he feels there's a lot more support this time around.
"I would be happy to facilitate that, get everybody to the table, and have some good open dialogue and discussion about this. It's not a make-or-break for the tribal entities," Luttrell said last year, as reported by Koco 5 News.
Rep. Ken Luttrell
For its part, the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, which represents several large tribes, previously said it's a topic they're closely watching.
"Our members are very interested in the subject," Matthew Morgan, chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, said in January last year. "They engage quite regularly within their own communities and their local representatives and state senators."
According to Stitt, sports betting is needed in Oklahoma considering an NBA team plays not too far from the state Capitol.
"We need that for the Thunder. That's very important for the Thunder. It's very important for Oklahomans," Stitt said at the time. "We already have casino gambling in Oklahoma. So, we need to do that the right way. We need to do it responsibly. We need to make sure we have audit capabilities. We need to make sure we get a fair deal for the state of Oklahoma."
As of late, there is also a legal battle over tribal compacts made between the governor and smaller tribes taking place. The lawsuit is ongoing, but the compact authorizes sports betting once it's legal. Larger tribes have said those compacts are invalid, claiming Stitt is beyond his authority.