Oklahoma’s Stitt Credits Kansas for Sports Betting Push

With Kansas drawing Oklahomans across state lines to bet, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (l.) says it’s time to come together and launch sports betting once and for all, but do it right.

If Oklahoma legalizes sports betting this year, Kansas deserves some of the praise, according to Governor Kevin Stitt.

“We’ve seen it in New Jersey and in many other states, and now it’s right on our doorstep with Kansas doing it,” Stitt told FOX23 News.

However, there are some safeguards he wants put in place before his signature goes on the bill, like proper auditing of the accounting and proper benefits to the residents of Oklahoma. Cutting taxes, education, and economic growth, for example.

“We’ve been behind the scenes looking into how we can do that in Oklahoma,” Stitt said. “We already have casino gambling in Oklahoma. We just need to make sure we do it the right way and responsibly.”

“As long as it’s 100-percent fair and transparent to Oklahomans, then I’m absolutely open to it,” he added.

Stitt attempted to push through sports betting in 2020 when he signed four new tribal compacts with tribes without casinos, but the courts struck down the compacts. He denied the effort was a way of circumventing the legislature, but rather a way for the tribes to avoid having to renegotiate sports betting if the state does legalize it.

Legalization now requires amending tribal compacts.

“Let’s do it the right way. Let’s get all the stakeholders at the table. Let’s get OU’s athletics director and OSU’s. Let’s get the Thunder, and let’s get everybody at the table and figure out what does it look like for Oklahoma to have a sportsbook because it would open up a lot of things,” he told FOX23. “People are driving across the border today. It’s a lot of tax revenue. Whether we put it into education or economic development, I think that’s something Oklahomans would like to see.”

Rep. Ken Luttrell introduced House Bill 1027, which would authorize tribes to offer sports betting in casinos and on mobile devices. Luttrell proposed a similar bill earlier this year, and it failed to get a vote on the floor.

The Oxford Economics Group estimated that legal betting would generate $240 million in new revenue for the state.

Sports betting could fundamentally change the way Oklahoma State fans interact with the university’s athletics, according to the Stillwater News Press.

In September 2020, the University of Colorado announced a corporate sponsorship with PointsBet, the first time an NCAA program partnered with a sports betting operator. The university said the multimillion-dollar deal would provide a financial boost during a time when the athletic department’s budget was stressed.

Caesars Sportsbook offered Michigan State $8.4 million over five years to promote gambling at the university. Oklahoma State, with more than 250,000 alumni and 20,000 students, is an easy target audience, according to Yogonet Gaming News.

Other schools have used their gambling deals to increase revenue, hire big-name coaches and improve facilities. TCU used its partnership with WinStar World Casino and Resort to build luxury suites at Amon G. Carter Stadium, and sports betting isn’t even legal in Texas yet.

“I would be happy to facilitate that, get everybody to the table, and have some good open dialogue and discussion about this. It’s not a make-or-break for the tribal entities,” Luttrell said last year, as reported by KOCO 5 News.

For its part, the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, which represents several large tribes, previously said it’s a topic they’re closely watching.

“Our members are very interested in the subject,” Matthew Morgan, chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, said in January last year. “They engage quite regularly within their own communities and their local representatives and state senators.”

According to Stitt, sports betting is needed in Oklahoma considering an NBA team plays not too far from the state Capitol.

“We need that for the Thunder. That’s very important for the Thunder. It’s very important for Oklahomans,” Stitt said. “We already have casino gambling in Oklahoma. So, we need to do that the right way. We need to do it responsibly.”