OK’d in Oklahoma: State’s Sports Betting Bill Clears First Hurdle
An Oklahoma sports betting bill that would also expand tribal gaming to include non-house-banked table games cleared an important legislative hurdle on Monday evening.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives Appropriations and Budget Committee approved HB 3375 by a healthy 18-8 margin.
As well as authorizing the table games, the bill would legalize parimutuel sports wagering (but not horse or dog betting) for the state’s 70-odd tribal casinos by an amendment to state compacts.
The bill, introduced by Representative Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston), states:
HB3375 provides state approval for new game offerings under the State Tribal Gaming Act. Tribes may elect to begin offering non-house banked table games and sports pools by submitting a written supplement to an existing gaming compact with the state. The agreement requires a tribe to pay the state 10 percent of the monthly net wins from the operation of non-house banked table games and sports pools.
Steps-Up Sports Betting
“Do you think gambling is good for the people of Oklahoma?” asked Representative Todd Russ (R-Cordell) during the hearing.
“That is a philosophical issue but nothing in this bill deals with whether it is good or bad,” replied Wallace.
But Wallace hopes the bill will indeed be good for Oklahoma in the form of millions of dollars pouring into the coffers of the cash-strapped legislature.
The state is desperate to find a solution for its protracted budget impasse. A previous gambling bill, which included gaming expansion but not sports betting, was part of a failed revenue package entitled “Step Up Oklahoma” that went down in flames earlier this month.
The bill estimates exclusivity fee revenues resulting non-house-banked table games will be about $22 million per year. These casino games like Three-Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold ’em, in which one player acts as the bank. The bill makes no mention of craps or roulette, as misreported by some media outlets.
Meanwhile, the exclusivity fee revenue resulting from the sports pools is estimated to be about $9.8 million per year.
The American Gaming Association calculates that a regulated sports betting market could contribute $600 million to Oklahoma’s economy and generate up to $124 million in tax revenues for the state each year.
As it stands, the bill would not allow the NBA and MLB their so-called “integrity fee” – a one percent cut of profits that equates to a 25 percent tax on gross gaming revenues. The leagues are expected to lobby hard against the bill.
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