Oklahoma tribes, lawmakers eye way toward sports betting
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s Native American tribes are prepared to offer sports betting at some of the more than 100 casinos across the state, but so far the state’s Legislature hasn’t reached an agreement on how to do that.
Here are some things to know about tribal gaming in Oklahoma:
Bills have been introduced the last two years to pave the way for tribal nations to offer sports betting if there was a favorable ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. But because the high court’s May decision hadn’t been reached, lawmakers didn’t feel much sense of urgency this year to pass it.
House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols said he expects meetings during the interim with the Senate, governor’s office, minority party, tribal officials and professional sports organizations, which have already expressed an interest in being involved in negotiations. He expects to consider a framework when the Legislature returns in February.
“This is something we need to do right as opposed to doing it fast,” said Echols, R-Oklahoma City.
GAMBLING IN OKLAHOMA
There are currently 130 tribal casinos in Oklahoma that range from small annexes attached to gas stations to massive Las Vegas resort-style casinos like the WinStar World Casino on the southern border with Texas that’s a popular destination for visitors from the Lone Star State.
Casinos offer a variety of electronic games, like slot machines and video poker, as well as table games like poker and blackjack. The Legislature passed a bill this year to include “ball-and-dice” games, like craps and roulette, which is expected to generate about $22 million annually in payments to the state. Lawmakers removed language for a 10 percent fee on the “net win” for casinos on sports betting. That was estimated to bring state about $10 million annually.
Oklahoma also allows wagering on horse races at three racetracks — Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Fair Meadows at Tulsa and Remington Park in Oklahoma City — as well as off-track betting at a few locations in Oklahoma City.
WHAT DO TRIBES PAY NOW?
In exchange for the tribes’ ability to offer gaming, the state receives exclusivity fees that have totaled $1.2 billion since 2005. In 2017, the amount was a record-high of more than $133 million, based on more than $2.2 billion in casino revenue from games covered under compacts between Oklahoma and the Native American tribes. The state’s share has increased every year, except for once in 2014.
Under the terms of compacts, the state receives between 4 and 6 percent of adjusted gross revenue from electronic games and 10 percent of the casino’s “net win” on table games, like poker and blackjack.
WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?
For the state, most of the revenue from exclusivity fees goes to the general fund for the Legislature to spend, but a portion is earmarked for public schools and the Department of Mental Health.
Under federal law, a tribe’s revenue from casinos can be used to provide for the general welfare of a tribe and its citizens, economic development, operations of local government agencies and donations to charity.
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