Area legislators continue to support sports betting bill

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Two Oklahoma state legislators who represent Osage County issued statements last week, expressing continued support for sports betting legislation in spite of a setback.

Both Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, and Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City, highlighted a need for better communication involving Oklahoma’s Native American tribes and the office of Gov. Kevin Stitt.

“I continue to believe that sports betting would be a good thing for our state,” Sen. Coleman said in a prepared statement. “The majority of my constituents who have reached out were overwhelmingly supportive of sports betting. However, it became clear during the process that there are too many unresolved issues that ultimately killed it this year.

 “This legislation will take more than just passing a bill through the Legislature,” Coleman continued. “When dealing with our tribal partners, compacting, and all the nuances that come with exclusivity and future gaming negotiations, we must get the governor in the same room with tribal leaders to build upon the conversation started this year by the Legislature.

 “Our Native American tribes are part of the fabric of our state and what makes Oklahoma unique. We must view them as a vital partner in any negotiations that involve sports betting moving forward.

 “I thank House principal author Rep. Ken Luttrell for all his hard work on this legislation and helping further the conversation. By pausing this legislation for now and having more conversations in the interim with the tribes and governor, we will be in a stronger position in the future to get this across the finish line, Coleman said.

Coleman called on Gov. Stitt to collaborate with tribal leaders.

Luttrell voiced a mixture of disappointment and optimism in a prepared statement.

"While I'm disappointed we didn't hit a jackpot this year on sports betting, I look forward to continued open dialogue with our tribal partners and the governor's office, which I plan to facilitate with Senator Coleman," Luttrell said. "The 66-26 vote in the House demonstrates that legislators fully understand the economic impact, the need for improved regulation of the betting industry, the desire our citizens have for this and the importance of ensuring a level, competitive playing field for the tribes."

HB1027, which was authored in the Senate by Sen. Bill Coleman, would add in-person and mobile sports betting as a supplement to the state-tribal model gaming compact and create a sliding fee system for what percentage of gaming revenue goes to the state.

In its current form, tribes implementing sports betting would pay the state a 4% fee for the first $5 million dollars made in one month, a 5% fee on the next $5 million and a 6% fee for additional monies. The system would restart each month.

Luttrell said the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) estimated sports betting could bring in up to $9,350,000 a year, of which 12% would enter the general revenue fund and 88% would go toward education.

HB1027 remains property of the Senate Rules Committee, where it was not heard ahead of the April 13 deadline to pass House bills from Senate committees. The bill remains eligible for hearing next session in the Senate, which Luttrell said would allow time for more conversations and negotiations.