Oklahoma has a long history of betting in the United States, and there are well over 100 tribal casinos in the state. However, sports betting is currently not legal anywhere in the state—including at all of the land-based casinos. However, that may change sooner rather than later, as a federal law was overturned in 2018 that changed the whole game. In May of 2018, the U.S Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act and laid the groundwork for sports betting to be legalized on a state-by-state basis. Several states have already legalized sports betting, and with the revenue brought in by sports gambling it will not be long before sports betting is legal in all 50 states, including Oklahoma.
At a Glance
Status of Betting
As stated before, sports betting of any kind is illegal in the state of Oklahoma. Even at the numerous tribal casinos in the Sooner State, there are not sportsbooks at any of them. However, when it comes to horse race betting, casino betting, and poker, there are a lot of options in terms of betting in the Sooner State.
Where to Bet
There are no places to legally place sports wagers in Oklahoma. There are bookies in the state and online sportsbooks, but in a strictly legal aspect sports betting is currently forbidden in the state.
When it comes to major professional sports teams in Oklahoma, there is only one in the NBA: the Oklahoma City Thunder. There are several minor and semi-professional teams throughout the state, with pretty much all of them in Oklahoma City or Tulsa. However, two of the biggest college football programs in America are in the Sooner State in Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, with both playing in the Big 12. The two other Division 1 schools in the state are Tulsa and Oral Roberts.
Status of Sports Betting
When it comes to the status of sports betting, as of mid-June 2019 it is not legal in the state of Oklahoma. However, with the overturning of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), that may change sooner rather than later. Sports betting has never been legal in the state, but with the new laws allowing states to legalize it and the money they can get from doing so, the question is not if the state will allow legal sports betting but when. Legalized sports betting has been viewed by lawmakers across the United States as a way to add revenue to their state’s budget, and several states have already legalized sports betting.
In 2018, before the PASPA was overturned on the federal level, there were attempts made by the Oklahoma Legislature to have language in place in the state laws before the federal one was overturned. On February 5th, 2018, three months before the PASPA was overturned, bills were introduced in the Oklahoma House and Senate, which would have made sports betting pools legal. This would have further paved the way for the overall legalization of sports betting in the state. The bill that was sent to the House stated that the bill to legalize the sports betting pools was not one of morality, but rather one that would have injected revenue into the state coffers.
The bills introduced to the House and the Senate were thought to be able to be passed quickly in anticipation of the PASPA being overturned. However, that was not the case, as in both bills the language dealing with sports betting was taken out by amendments before the bills were voted on. This threw a wrench in having sports betting legalized in Oklahoma. It was the 2nd straight year where there were bills introduced that would have lifted the restriction of a type of sports betting in the state and the 2nd straight year where the language regarding sports betting was taken out via amendments before the bills were voted on. There has been no action taken in 2019 to introduce language in any bills in terms of sports betting in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma has a huge number of tribal casinos, with well over 100 of them currently operating. Like other states that have tribal casinos, such as California and Florida, there has been no sports betting bills introduced partially due to the fact that the tribes, who have substantial political influence, are not keen on the idea of legalized sports betting. The tribes believe that sports betting on the internet and on mobile devices will further overall internet and mobile gaming, which would take business away from their land-based casinos.
Where to Bet Sports
There are no legal places to bet on sports in Oklahoma as of mid-June 2019. Once sports betting does become legal in the state, it will only be a matter of time, and there will likely be many options for players to lay sports wagers. The most obvious choice is at many of the tribal casinos, which are located all around the state. While the tribal casinos have not warmed up to the legalization of sports gambling, it is not far off in the state since the federal law was overturned in 2018.
Tribal Casinos have Influence on Sports Betting Issue
Native American tribes across the United States have a lot of influence when it comes to the legality of sports betting, and this is especially the case in Oklahoma. Many of the tribes are not in favor of the idea since it could threaten their land-based casino bonuses. Others support it, but they would have to have a piece of the pie from the revenue that sports betting would bring in. Bill Pascrell III is a lobbyist for gaming interests that want to legalize sports betting in America, and he stated, “The tribes have a major-league seat at the table.”
Oklahoma Tribes Give Money to Keep Gambling Out of Texas
In Texas, the only sports betting bill was brought about by a Democrat, and it ultimately did not pass. The Oklahoma tribes, as well as those from Louisiana, have given millions of dollars to Texas officeholders and candidates in order to keep gambling out of Texas so that people from the state would continue to visit Oklahoma casinos.
ESPN Puts Oklahoma on “Moving toward legislation” list
Not long after the PASPA was repealed on the federal level, ESPN wrote an article titled “United States of Sports Betting: An updated map of where every state stands.” They had all 50 states and where they stood in terms of legalizing sports gaming in the state. Oklahoma was put on the “Moving toward legislation” list of states even though no action has been taken in 2019. Still, with such a reputable sporting outlet listing them as moving towards legislation, it puts Oklahoma in a positive direction towards the legalization of sports betting.
Sports Teams That Drive Betting
When it comes to teams that drive betting in Oklahoma there are not many in the pro ranks, but a few Division 1 colleges have no lack of betting action. In the pro game, the only name in town is the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA, but in the college game the state has Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tulsa, and Oral Roberts in the Division 1 ranks.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are the only major professional sports team. Being the only major pro team, their fan base is rabid, to say the least. They moved to OKC from Seattle, beginning play in the 2008 season. They have been a success since they moved, making the playoffs almost every season and winning the Western Conference title in 2012.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are the major colleges from the Sooner State that play in the Big 12, and they drive betting—big time. For a major conference you can find many bets associated with their games, and this is especially the case during bowl season. The teams have eight football National Titles between them, with Oklahoma having seven and the last coming in 2000. However, there is also no lack of betting options for the D1 teams in the state when it comes to basketball and baseball.
- Casino Legal Status – There is no lack of casino gambling in the state of Oklahoma, with over 100 tribal casinos all throughout the state.
- Sports Betting Legal Status – As of mid-June 2019 there is no legal sports betting option in Oklahoma.
- Horse Racing Legal Status – Horse racing is legal in Oklahoma, and they have four tracks to lay wagers at: the Cherokee Casino Will Rodgers Downs, Fair Meadows Racetrack at Expo Square, Remington Park Casino and Racetrack, and the track at the River Spirit Casino.
- Poker Legal Status – Poker is widely available in Oklahoma, as there are not only poker rooms at many of the tribal casinos, but many smaller ones throughout the state.
- DFS Legal Status – While there was a bill introduced in Oklahoma in 2017 regarding daily fantasy sports (DFS), the effort failed and it is not legal in the state.
- Lottery Legal Status – Oklahoma has a state lottery that was introduced in 2005.
Sports Betting Timeline
- 2018 – Two bills for the Oklahoma House and Senate had language pertaining to the legalization of sports gambling, but the language was taken out via amendments before being voted on.
- 2017 – Bills had sports gambling language taken out before being voted on.
- 2005 – Oklahoma state lottery begins.
- 1982 – Pari-Mutuel betting on horse races is first legislated