Oklahoma Governor Faces Opposition in Push for Legalized Sports Betting
Oklahoma Governor pushes for sports betting, but faces opposition from Native American tribes who hold exclusive gambling rights.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has expressed his desire to legalize sports betting in the state by the end of the year, but his goal may be challenging to achieve. The governor will have to convince several opponents, especially Native American tribes, before Oklahomans can make bets on their favorite teams.
Stitt's biggest challenge comes from the Native American tribes in Oklahoma, who hold the exclusive right to offer gambling in the state. Last year, Stitt upset the tribes when he forced them to renegotiate the state's tribal gaming compacts. Although the governor eventually succeeded, the tribes endorsed Stitt's opponent in the November election, highlighting the animosity between them.
Stitt's recent comment on a local sports radio show may have already damaged his relationship with the tribes. He stated that the tribes should not be the only group to have a say in designing a legal sports betting program. This stance may not sit well with the tribes, who have exclusive rights to offer gambling in the state and may not be keen on sharing that power.
Matthew Morgan, the chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, expressed unease about working with the governor. While he agreed that sports betting is already occurring in the state and both the tribes and the state would like to add it as a form of gaming, he questioned how the revenue would be split up and who would take the risk.
However, Representative Ken Luttrell is more optimistic about passing a sports betting bill. His bill would give exclusive rights to the tribes, and he is confident that all parties involved can work together on this issue. Luttrell's previous attempt to pass a sports betting bill failed, but he believes there is more support for the idea this time.
On the other hand, Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat has stated that he has "zero desire" to support a sports betting bill, making Stitt's goal even more challenging.
Despite the opposition, Stitt remains optimistic and wants state lawmakers to pass sports betting legislation when the legislative session begins in February. He believes that if the state is going to legalize sports betting, they should do it now. However, with various stakeholders at odds with each other, it remains to be seen if sports betting will become legal in Oklahoma anytime soon.