Oklahoma is one of the few remaining states that has yet to regulate some form of sports betting. House Bill 1027 is currently traveling through the OK legislature and will make sports betting legal if passed.
The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission will be the governing body of legal sports betting in Oklahoma if HB 1027 receives the governor’s signature.
Local sportsbooks will operate within the state’s tribal horse race track casinos (racinos). There is the potential for mobile or online sports betting but it will have to occur within the gaming venue’s property lines.
There will be a limit of three licenses issued, narrowing the opportunity to place a domestic wager and also negating any potential for significant revenue.
The Deadline For 2023 Approaches
Even though HB 1027 passed through the House Appropriations and Budget Committee without debate and appears to be on the fast track, there’s not much time left on the legislative clock for 2023.
Session ends on May 26th, but rules necessitate that the bill must be calendared for a hearing on the House floor prior to March 23rd.
Ponca City House Representative Ken Luttrell is the sponsor of the bill and deliberately included vague language to leave room for debate to iron out the wrinkles.
“It’s a bill that I’ve been working on for several years, in conversations with the tribes, with my gaming partners, in my districts and many other districts, across the state…”
OK House Representative Ken Luttrell (R)
The additional debate also has the potential to push any legalization efforts into 2024.
Current Sports Betting Options For Oklahomans
Both Kansas and Arkansas share a large border with Oklahoma. KS and AR allow 21 and older gamblers to download their mobile sportsbook apps and wager on pro and college games.
Anyone 21 or older living in Oklahoma can drive across the border into Arkansas or Kansas, pull over onto the side of the road, and bet on sports using their iPhones or Android smartphones.
It is all perfectly legal, too. When wagers are placed in other legal US sports betting states, the money stays there and benefits citizens of those given regions.
That’s why it doesn’t make sense to limit OK sports betting to brick-and-mortar racinos. Some patrons may opt for mobile apps offered by other states if they are closer to the border than they are to the nearest racetrack.
There is also the looming prospect of offshore sportsbook sites that accept members from inside Oklahoma. Because they operate from within jurisdictions that are not governed by the United States, they’re able to offer their services to OK-based bettors without violating state laws.
Again, the use of overseas sports gambling sites would be lessened by the existence of online sportsbooks that are locally regulated, but those are not present in the current bill language.
May 23rd is just five business days away. If the bill is to have any chance of becoming law, floor debate and amendments should be plentiful over the next week of the legislative session.