Legalizing sports betting in Oklahoma appears to be a highly controversial issue as of recent and will be discussed through a state Supreme Court case beginning next week.
Oklahoma Governor, Kevin Stitt, began the dispute when he approved a series of games deemed illegal, according to Oklahoma law, in two new tribal compacts. The most controversial approval was regarding sports betting or “event wagering,” as it was referred to in the compacts. Inevitably, this has brought Stitt’s authority to make decisions like these into question by many Oklahoma natives and officials.
Greg Treat, Senate President Pro Tempore, and House Speaker Charles McCall have opened a case to bring clarity to Gov. Stitt’s actions and level of authority. The Supreme Court case will begin next Wednesday.
A Series of Unexpected Events
Oklahoma residents were not expecting to see sports betting in the state anytime soon. This is why Governor Stitt’s approval came as such a shock. He approved sports wagering within two compacts negotiated with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe back in April.
Attorney General, Mike Hunter, and many others in the state were quick to express their concerns. Not long after Stitt’s announcement was made regarding the compacts, Hunter released a statement criticizing the approval. The Attorney General later released a more official statement clarifying that Gov. Stitt does not have the authority to violate state gaming law, regardless of the purpose.
He also made sure to reach out to the Department of the Interior, who is in charge of approving compacts between U.S. states and tribal nations. Hunter wanted to ensure they rejected the compacts approved by Stitt.
The outcome was most definitely in favor of Stitt and the compacts, as the Department of the Interior took no action on them. This allowed the two compacts to come into play only 45 days after being submitted.
One Last Step
Because of the repercussions faced by Stitt after his decision, he has requested for the federal court to clarify whether or not he has the power to authorize certain compact changes that would affect the state. The federal court has decided not to comment on the matter as they feel it is not their place. Although it was approved by the Department of the Interior, sports wagering is not legal in Oklahoma just yet.
In a press release, Stitt praised the Interior’s approval of the compacts. It now needs to be published in the Federal Registrar before becoming official. When that occurs, the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and the Comanche Nation will be allowed to offer sports wagering at their respective casinos.
Although neither of the two tribes have made a comment, it is reasonable to assume they will not make any significant moves until more clarification is brought to the matter.