Sports betting nearly came to Oklahoma in mid-2020 after two tribes renegotiated their gaming compacts with the state in a deal giving those tribes the right to open retail sportsbooks on tribal property. The State Supreme Court nixed that plan, but the episode did demonstrate there is considerable demand for sports betting among certain key stakeholders.

Online sports betting and gambling have not yet made their way to Oklahoma. One tribe did attempt to bring online poker and casino games to Oklahoma, but that effort ground to a halt in 2014 due to federal intervention and tribal politics. As it stands now, there are no plans in place to expand online gaming in the near future.

A total of 33 tribes have compacts in place with the state to offer land-based gambling at approximately 120 casinos located across the state. Indian casinos in Oklahoma may offer slot machines, video poker, table games and slot machines.

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Sports Betting in Oklahoma

Sports betting was temporarily legalized in Oklahoma through new gaming compacts negotiated between two tribal gaming operators and the state in April 2020.

At the time, gaming compacts between tribal gaming operators and the state were up for negotiation and had been stalemated for months. Most tribes opposed legalizing sports betting, but Governor Stitt was able to renegotiate gaming compacts with two tribal groups. Among other things, the renegotiated gaming compacts authorized those tribes to open retail sportsbooks at their casinos.

Other tribal groups and state lawmakers immediately took the issue to court, leading to the OK Supreme Court to rule the renegotiated compacts invalid. As a result, Oklahoma’s sports betting efforts were derailed for the immediate future.

If Oklahoma is to legalize sports betting, it will have to do so with the approval of tribal gaming groups and the state legislature. More recently, a federal court ruled that the tribes’ existing compacts with the state automatically renewed for a 15-year term as of 1 January 2020, which gives the tribes (most of whom opposed Governor Stitt’s attempt to legalize sports betting) significant leverage in dictating how or if Oklahoma should legalize sports betting.

The Otoe-Missouria compact and Comanche Nation compact were similarly worded and allowed each tribe to operate two retail sportsbooks. The Otoe-Missouri tribe operates five casinos in Oklahoma and the Comanche Nation operates four casinos.

The scope of OK sports betting under those compacts was limited to a total of four retail sportsbooks at casinos operated by the tribes and mobile betting that occurs within 1,000 feet of an approved facility or within tribal boundaries, whichever is less.

In both compacts, the state reserved the right to authorize up to five commercial sportsbooks should Oklahoma pass additional legislation authorizing commercial sports betting.

Other key details from the compacts included:

  • Professional, college, e-sports betting approved
  • Daily fantasy sports and wagers on “other events” approved
  • Wagers on college games taking place in Oklahoma or on games involving Oklahoma colleges are prohibited
  • State collects a 1.1% surcharge on total sports betting handle
  • Wagers may be taken in-person or electronically, provided wagers are geofenced to only occur on tribal land

Oklahoma would have been one of just two states (the other being New Mexico) to effectively legalize sports betting without legislative action. In 2020, Governor Kevin Stitt successfully renegotiated gaming compacts with two tribes, authorizing both to offer sports betting on tribal land.

Governor Stitt said at the time that no further legislative action was needed to legalize sports betting in Oklahoma, but the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association disagreed. In a statement responding to the development, OIGA Chairman Matthew Morgan said this:

We respect the sovereignty of each Tribe to take what actions it believes it must on behalf of its citizens.

All the same, Governor Stitt does not have the authority to do what he claims to have done today. Without the engagement of the Oklahoma Legislature, he has entered agreements based on a claim of unilateral State authority to legalize sportsbook, to revamp the Oklahoma Lottery, and to authorize new gaming facilities in Norman and Stillwater, among other places. That’s simply not the law.

I expect Tribal and State officials are now reviewing the documents he released today and trying to understand what exactly it is Governor Stitt is trying to do. But at the end of the day, I suspect his actions have not helped matters for anyone.

With the governor sidestepping the legislature on a key gaming issue and bypassing the OIGA, the OK sports betting effort was not guaranteed to succeed. The US Department of the Interior even approved the new gaming compacts and pave the way for sports betting to commence, but ultimately the State Supreme Court ruled the compacts invalid.

House Bill 3375 was introduced in February of 2018 and sought to legalize sports betting at tribal casinos. What made this bill unique among the many sports betting bills that were proposed in 2017 and 2018 is that it did not call for traditional sports betting; HB 3375 called for pools betting.

Under HB 3375, casino visitors would not be placing sports bets against the house like they would at a traditional Las Vegas sportsbook. Instead, patrons’ wagers would be pooled together and all payouts would come from that pool, minus a little hold-back for the casino in a model similar to parimutuel horse wagering.

According to Tulsa World, the bill may have generated $28 million a year in new tax revenues had it passed.

Oklahoma Horse Racing Betting

Oklahoma authorized horse racing betting via public referendum in 1982. After a successful ballot initiative, lawmakers created the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (see website here) to regulate horse racing and parimutuel wagering across the state.

Online Horse Racing Betting in OK

State law does not specifically discuss the legality of advance deposit wagering. Rules promulgated by the OHRC permit account wagering via self-serve terminals and telephone but do not mention placing wagers online or via mobile device.

Even so, several major horse racing betting sites offer their services in Oklahoma. The state has given no indication that it plans to take action against such operators. If online horse racing betting is not explicitly approved in Oklahoma, it is certainly tolerated.

Oklahoma Racetracks and OTBs

State law permits horse racing betting in-person at each of three racetracks and seven off-track betting locations (OTBs).

Remington Park

  • Thoroughbred and quarter horse racing
  • Simulcast wagering

One Remington Place
Oklahoma City, OK 73111

Will Rogers Downs

  • Thoroughbred and quarter horse racing
  • Simulcast wagering

20900 South 4200 Road
Claremore, OK 7409

Fair Meadows Tulsa

  • Quarter horse, Appaloosa and Paint horse racing
  • Simulcast wagering

4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa, OK 74114

Six casinos and one café offer off-track betting on races held across the country.

Thunder Roadhouse Café

  • Simulcast wagering seven days a week

900 W Memorial Rd
Oklahoma City, OK 73114

Riverwind Casino

  • Simulcast wagering Wed-Sun each week

1544 State Highway 9
Norman, OK 73072

Newcastle Casino

  • Simulcast wagering with 18 viewing stations and 12 TVs

2457 Highway 62 Service Road
Newcastle, OK 73065

Southwind Casino

  • Simulcast wagering 7 days a week from 11AM to 9 PM

5640 La Cann Road
Newkirk, OK 74647

Racers OTB at WinStar Casino

  • Simulcast wagering 7 days a week

777 Casino Avenue
Thackerville, OK 73459

Choctaw Casino – Durant

  • Simulcast wagering 7 days a week

4216 South Highway 69/75
Durant, OK 74701

Choctaw Casino – Pocola

  • Open Wed-Sun starting at 11 AM
  • 24/7 wagering available via six self-service terminals

3400 Choctaw Road
Pocola, OK 74902

Oklahoma Fantasy Sports

Oklahoma law does not specifically address fantasy sports and the major DFS sites operate openly across the state. There was a push for legislation at one point in 2016, but state gaming tribes came out strongly opposed to the bill and later took credit for derailing the effort.

Tribal groups in Oklahoma came out against the bill on the basis that it excluded the tribes from any potential revenue, which they argue breaks revenue-sharing compacts the state holds with the tribes. In certain states, the state government has agreed not to pursue gambling expansion without also dealing in the tribes for a piece of the action. Although one could argue daily fantasy sports is not a form of gambling by the traditional definition, some tribes argue otherwise.

Since then, there have been no other notable efforts to address daily fantasy sports via regulation. Fantasy sites continue to operate in Oklahoma under the current status quo.

Online Gambling in Oklahoma

Online poker and gambling haven’t officially come to Oklahoma yet but it isn’t for a lack of effort. In 2013, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes came to an agreement with OK Governor Mary Fallin to host online poker games for state residents and overseas internet users. The tribe invested nearly $9.5 million in PokerTribes.com and set up a website that promised to host real money poker and casino games very soon.

The US Department of the Interior stepped in later that year and put an end to the deal. Their argument was that state lawmakers had no authority to sanction such an agreement. Cheyenne and Arapaho sued to have the Department of Interior back off, but that lawsuit was dropped later after a shift in tribal politics brought a new tribe governor into power in 2014. Eddie Hamilton changed key gambling personnel and ordered the lawsuit to be dropped.

PokerTribes.com folded amid the legal troubles and infighting, and has not been seen since. As of the time of this writing, the website is offline.

Apart from that, there have been no other notable efforts to bring internet poker or online casinos to the state. This means for the time being internet poker is prohibited in Oklahoma. State gaming laws make it illegal to participate in poker anywhere outside of an Indian casino so presumably, one could be charged with a misdemeanor for playing at unregulated betting sites. However, nobody has ever been prosecuted for playing online games in OK.

Oklahoma Gambling Law

All legal land-based gambling in Oklahoma is hosted on tribal lands under compacts between the state and 33 tribes. The tribes mostly self-regulate but Oklahoma does have a Gaming Compliance Unit responsible for carrying out the state’s oversight responsibilities under each compact.

Oklahoma law allows tribes to offer all major forms of gambling apart from sports betting. Different tribes have different licenses for casinos of various sizes. Smaller casinos tend to consist of a few gaming machines while large resort-style casinos offer everything from slots to table games to poker.

Gambling outside of licensed casinos is heavily regulated. Oklahoma does not even provide an exemption for private games between friends.

§21-942 of the State Statutes (RTF link here: Page 253) make it a crime to bet on or play any gambling game not authorized by the state:

Any person who bets or plays at any of said prohibited games, or who shall bet or play at any games whatsoever, for money, property, checks, credits or other representatives of value with cards, dice or any other device which may be adapted to or used in playing any game of chance or in which chance is a material element, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not less than Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00), nor more than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for a term of not less than one (1) day, nor more than thirty (30) days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

The penalties for organizing an unlawful gambling game are significantly harsher.

§21-941 has this to say on the subject:

Except as provided in the Oklahoma Charity Games Act, every person who opens, or causes to be opened, or who conducts, whether for hire or not, or carries on either poker, roulette, craps or any banking or percentage, or any gambling game played with dice, cards or any device, for money, checks, credits, or any representatives of value, or who either as owner or employee, whether for hire or not, deals for those engaged in any such game, shall be guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), nor more than Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00), and by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for a term of not less than one (1) year nor more than ten (10) years.