A new bill seeking the legalization of sports betting in Oklahoma has been filed and scheduled for its first reading on the first day of the new legislative session on February 6, 2023.
Tiered Fee Structure
House Bill HB1027 filed by Rep. Ken Luttrell was scheduled for its first reading on the first day of the new legislative session showing that Gov. Kevin Stitt meant business when information hit the wires last month that his administration was actively looking into sports betting.
The bill would introduce a tiered fee structure for the tribes asking them to pay a higher percentage if they generate more: 4% on the first $5 million tribes receive in a month, 5% on the next $5 million and 6% of all the rest in a calendar year – a proposal that looks much like the exclusivity payments for tribes under the model gaming compact, argued local radio network and news media KOSU.
And at least one tribe, the Muscogee Nation, believes that the bill needs some of its details worked out. The tribe’s spokesperson, Jason Salsman, was quoted by the reporting media saying that the bill “right now, as it is the language in the proposals” does not work for the Muscogee Nation but the bill in its current form can become a base to be built upon.
Varied Tribal Interests
With 39 tribes in Oklahoma and each one of them having varied levels of interest in sports betting, agreeing on the fine details is going to be key to whether the tribes support the bill or not, believes the chair of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Commission (OIGA) Matt Morgan.
And while it is obvious that the bill sponsor has taken advice from experts in the sports betting industry, he did not consult with OIGA and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered, Morgan admits, sharing his plan to bring Luttrell to the conversation.
I don’t know if it hits the mark for those tribes that are interested in every way, and I’m really inquisitive: Is this his idea, or is this legislative leadership’s idea? Don’t know the answer to that, but it would be really interesting to find out.
Matt Morgan, chair, OIGA
But the OIGA chair is adamant that it is important to remember that some things may not be legal under the current model gaming compact.
The stakeholders are involved here…I want to be clear, are the state of Oklahoma — meaning the governor and the legislature — and the tribes. Outside of those three stakeholders, anything above and beyond that, you risk the real possibility of breaching our current gaming compact.
Matt Morgan, chair, OIGA
Negotiated between the tribes and the state to generate additional revenue, the compact was initially signed in 2004 and had to be renewed after 15 years but in 2020 Gov. Stitt refused to do so. Eventually, the tribes prevailed in the legal battle and the compact was renewed.
HB1027 is Luttrell’s second attempt to pass a sports betting bill after his previous one in February 2022 did not go anywhere.