In February, Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City filed House Bill 1027, bringing sports aficionados and gamblers from Oklahoma one step closer to finally seeing sports betting legalized in the Sooner State.
After the legislation went through a smooth review from a friendly committee that was chaired by Luttrell, KOKO-TV announces that the House Committee on Appropriations and Budget has decided to pass the bill on Thursday.
27 “Yes” Votes, Four “No” Votes
Luttrell’s second trial to introduce sports betting to Oklahoma gathered 27 “yes” votes and it was only opposed by four “no” votes in the Appropriations and Budget Committee.
According to its initiator, the main purpose of the bill is to allow additional changes that might be necessary during the lawmaking procedure. In its current form, the legislation would enable Native American tribes to make their way into new sports betting compacts that legalize both in-person and mobile sports betting.
Tribes eager to participate would be allowed to ink partnerships with larger online sports betting sites or create their own gambling sites and platforms and sportsbooks. They would also be allowed to set limits to mobile betting and only allow the vertical on tribal land.
Luttrell explained that the new bill is the result of his lengthy work and collaboration with the tribes and gaming partners in his own districts as well as several other districts in Oklahoma.
While the bill was successfully passed out of committee at the start of March, this still does not offer any guarantee on the fact that it would also reach the House. Nonetheless, Luttrell has expressed his optimism that this would occur.
In the event that the bill would reach the House floor, it would still require clearance from the House and Senate prior to being signed into effect by Gov. Kevin Stitt.
The Power of Example
Further strengthening his argument that Oklahoma is currently missing out on a lot of money, Luttrell explained that after sports betting became legal in nearby Arkansas, the three casinos there generated a massive total bid of $500 million, with $11 million reaching the state’s treasury.
The bill’s initiator also argued that sports betting was already legal in New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas, while adding that the purpose of the bill was not to expand gambling or gaming, but to offer “another option for those tribes that would like to provide this to their customers.”
If it would come into effect, the legislation would follow the same distribution of the fees that currently come to the state from other compacts.
Accordingly, 80% of the money would go to education while a separate provision would be used to combat problem gaming and provide counseling to problem problems and persons at risk.
While the legislation still has a long time to go before it turns into a palpable reality, the fact that it currently enjoys the support of both the tribes and the Governor can be taken as a good omen.