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Oklahoma is Latest State to Discuss Adding Sports Betting

The world of sports betting has certainly increased its reach since May 2018, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (or PASPA) was unconstitutional. This gave individual states the right to regulate sports betting and offer it to their residents.

Since that time, states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania have shown the rest of the country just how profitable and helpful that extra money can be to their economy. So far, 11 states have fully-operational sports betting, with six more passing bills but waiting to be up and running for business.

“Every couple of years you see something that kind of takes the attention of the country, and right now it’s sports betting,” said Matthew Morgan, chairman in the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association.

Morgan was present at the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Conference and Trade Show in Tulsa last month, where sports betting was the main talking point.

“We have literally five separate sessions here going on,” said Sheila Morgan, the Executive Director for OIGA. “We have people from the United Kingdom, people from Ireland, that are just talking about that specific topic.”

Coming Sooner Or Later

Oklahoma, which has the third-most number of casinos in the United States, would certainly stand to benefit from the legalization of sports betting.

“We’re preparing as though it’s coming sooner than later,” said Mark Fulton, Chief Operating Officer of Cherokee Nation Entertainment, which oversees all of the tribe’s casinos. “There is a market here in Oklahoma. We’re still trying to estimate what that might be. There are models that show it could be up to six percent of the gross gaming revenue in those states.”

Fulton mentioned that they’ve already begun looking at potential partners and different ways to offer sports betting. However, if any of this has a chance to become legal, it’ll need to go through the government at the state level.

“From the legislative standpoint there has been an ongoing discussion about when that will eventually come to Oklahoma because Oklahomans are historically kind of sports-crazy,” said Terry O’Donnell, a Republican from District 23 in the Oklahoma House. “I think the legislature is looking at it as a wait-and-see game.”

New Agreement

There is a big deadline that’ll have to be met in order to legalize sports betting. In January, there are deals set to expire, which actually give the tribes exclusivity in gaming contracts.

Governor Kevin Stitt has said that he wants to renegotiate those to give the state a better deal. Even though the tribes don’t feel like it’s in their best interest, they have said they’d be willing to listen to what the state has to say.

Stitt’s office told News 9 in Oklahoma, “The governor is open to expanding opportunities for the tribes, but what this looks like is something the governor and the tribes will need to discuss.”

“I think it’s kind of universally accepted at the capital that it will be the sportsbook that reopens negotiations regardless of the legal issue,” said O’Donnell. “I think sportsbook is the next big issue to be resolved.”

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