The state of Oklahoma has seen plenty of turmoil in its gambling industry over the last six months, and most of it has been brought on by Governor Kevin Stitt. Sports betting did not seem likely in Oklahoma entering 2020, but now there is a real possibility that it will become legalized.
Governor Stitt refused to allow tribal gaming compacts to renew on Jan. 1, and instead insisted that the state should be able to negotiate a new compact with the tribes. That prompted several major tribes in the state to sue the Governor, and the result of that lawsuit has yet to be determined.
Stitt was able to negotiate new compacts with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation, and he included sports betting as a part of that negotiation. That brought on a whole new debate, but it also might allow for sports betting to become a real possibility in the Sooner State.
Supreme Court Set to Make Ruling
Powerful lawmakers in the state of Oklahoma did not think that Governor Stitt had the authority to offer sports betting to tribal nations, and they have challenged him in court. The Oklahoma State Supreme Court will hear the case next week, and they will make the determination as to what powers the Governor has.
Sports betting was not expected to be legalized in Oklahoma anytime soon, and lawmakers were stunned when Stitt included it in the compacts. Attorney General Mike Hunter condemned the decision, and lawmakers in the state are hoping that the decision gets overturned.
Hunter appealed the decision in federal court, but the court ruled that they could not interfere with state issues. This forced lawmakers to challenge Stitt in the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and this will be a big decision in terms of the regulation of sports betting.
Governor Stitt himself has asked the courts to give clarification on his powers, but that request was denied as well. Both sides feel that they are right in this situation, and it will be interesting to see what the court decides.
One Final Sports Betting Step
Even if the court holds up the compacts negotiated by Stitt and the two tribal nations, sports betting could still be years away. The gaming compacts will first need to be published in the Federal Register, but that won’t happen until the courts make a decision.
Once the compacts are published, the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe will technically be able to offer sports betting, but that doesn’t seem likely. This is likely to be a long court battle, and the two tribes are going to let things play out before taking any bets on sports.
Other tribal nations in Oklahoma have also publicly opposed the compacts signed by these tribes, and they have taken action against them. Both tribes have been suspended from a statewide organization for one year because they dealt with Stitt individually.
Sports betting is still unlikely in Oklahoma in 2020, but there are steps in place to legalize the industry soon.