Ponca City Now - November 7, 2023 5:51 am

Some state lawmakers and tribal leaders are frustrated after the announcement of Governor Kevin Stitt‘s plan to legalize sports betting.

They say the governor hasn’t made any attempts to include them in the planning of his proposal.

Governor Kevin Stitt says his plan isn’t taking anything away from the tribes, but giving the ability to add to them which he anticipates will generate more than $100 million in revenue per year.

Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton is one of several parties interested in bringing sports betting to Oklahoma.

For more than 20 years, tribes have been operating casinos in the state, and that’s why Batton says it’s unfortunate the governor did not involve the tribal nations in his planning.

In a statement following the announcement of Governor Kevin Stitt’s sports betting plan, Batton says in part: “[The Choctaw Nation] does not believe the plan represents the best interest for the people of Oklahoma or the tribal nations…”

The governor says with research about how more than 35 states across the US operate gambling, his plan provides the most inclusive approach to sports betting, including generating appropriate fees paid to the state.

“We want to make sure that’s transparent, and it’s accountable, and it pays market transactions, just like a capital market and free system. Anyone that wants to get into this industry can do it, and that’s what happens in other states,” Stitt said.

However, the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association says, “…Oklahoma continues to benefit under our model compact at a rate that far exceeds any other state with an Indian Gaming Regulatory Act…”

House Bill 1027, a bill to add sports betting in Oklahoma, will be considered by the Senate in February, but the governor says it does not allow mobile betting and encourages a monopoly on gambling within the tribes.

“We don’t pick and choose, and when you pick and choose, and the government tries to play favorites, that’s when you have a bad system, and it’s not transparent and fair for the consumer,” Stitt said.

The governor says he is working with legislators to evaluate the best way revenue generated from sports betting can be used. He lists a few possibilities as education, infrastructure, and efforts to treat gambling addiction.

He also says if the proposal does become law, it will help with efforts to reduce state taxes.


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