Interesting proposal

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt might be in Israel in a show of support for the Netanyahu administration, but that didn’t stop him from releasing an eyebrow-raising sports betting measure.

Gov. Stitt took to X Thursday with a link to his new proposal that opens the door to all commercial mobile operators, seemingly at the expense of tribal exclusivity:

The news release from Stitt’s office stated the new measure would “allow Oklahomans to place bets on their mobile devices on a sportsbook licensed by the state.” The mobile betting suitors would need to pony up $500,000 for a mobile license plus $100,000 in annual renewal fees, with a 20% tax on gross gaming revenue (GGR) earmarked for state coffers.  

One of the most obvious issues the proposal raises is how Oklahoma’s tribes are going to take to the measure, considering they paid the state $191.5m in gaming exclusivity fees for the 2022 fiscal year.

A question of exclusivity

Pictured smiles aplenty with Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Texas Gov. Gregg Abbot a few hours before releasing his new proposal from the war-torn country, Stitt looks to have ignited another type of conflict back home. As Tulsa World reported, it’s not clear what impact such a move by Stitt’s administration would have on the tribes’ gaming exclusivity compacts, or whether tribes simply won’t be required to pay this tax anymore.  

tribes haven’t shown much interest in sports betting in the past

While state tribes haven’t shown much interest in sports betting in the past, they may change their tune when all that’s on the table is permission to take in-person sports bets only.

Despite Stitt’s office stating the new proposal would “protect tribal investments in brick-and-mortar facilities,” the governor has for years been fighting compacts signed decades ago that he believes are “overly favorable to the tribes.”

A long way off

Of course, getting mobile sports betting regulated in Oklahoma is still some way off. As Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall stated Thursday, his legislative body “will need time to review and discuss” Stitt’s proposal.

In addition, McCall added that Stitt didn’t consult the House or Senate before publishing the new plan. In a written statement, McCall poured cold water on anything happening fast. “As we know from the last session, sports betting is a very complicated issue,” he forewarned.

The “last session” McCall referred to was a legislative committee’s rejection of compacts Stitt signed with two tribes that currently don’t offer gaming. The compacts would have permitted sports betting.

“That being said, the House is always open to good ideas and I look forward to reviewing his proposal in greater detail,” McCall added.