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Sports betting bill fails to advance in Oklahoma legislature

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A bill allowing sports betting in Oklahoma is dead for this legislative session.

House Bill 1027 would've allowed in person and mobile sports betting under the state-tribal model gaming compact. But it failed to advance in the Senate before an April 13 legislative deadline.

It was co-authored by two Ponca City Republicans: Sen. Bill Coleman and Rep. Ken Luttrell.

Coleman says the demise of the bill was partly due to lack of coordination between Gov. Kevin Stitt and the tribes.

"We just felt, including myself, that for the bill to move any further we really needed to make sure a conversation between the tribes and the governor took place, so we could be fully confident they were in agreement about how sports betting would operate in the state of Oklahoma," said Coleman.

The model gaming compact tribal nations currently operate under was signed in 2004 and renewed after 15 years. In 2019, just months after he took office, Stitt wrote an opinion piece in The Tulsa World stating that the compact didn't renew in 2020. A legal battle ensued, with the tribes prevailing in July 2020.

Stitt, who is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, has had a fraught relationship with many Oklahoma tribes surrounding gaming compacts, hunting and fishing compacts and criminal jurisdiction.

HB1027 would have created a sliding fee structure for tribes to pay to the state: 4% on the first $5 million tribes receive in a month, 5% on the next $5 million and 6% for additional monies.

The Office of Management and Enterprise Services estimates sports betting could bring in up to $9.35 million per year in revenue to the state.

This is the second time a sports betting bill has not passed. Luttrell also filed a bill at the beginning of the 2022 legislative session, but it didn't go anywhere.

HB1027 will stay with the Senate Rules Committee, and is eligible for hearing next legislative session in the Senate. Coleman and Luttrell say they will be having conversations about a bill that will work in the coming months.

"I continue to believe that sports betting would be a good thing for our state," Coleman said. "The majority of my constituents who have reached out were overwhelmingly supportive of sports betting. However, it became clear during the process that there are too many unresolved issues that ultimately killed it this year."

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
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