Oklahoma and Alabama Legislators File New Sports Betting Bills
Lawmakers have filed Alabama sports betting and Oklahoma sports betting bills in hopes of bringing legalized sports wagering to their states. Introducing gambling laws to legislative sessions is nothing new for either state, but gaining support and officially legalizing gaming additions historically has been a challenge.
Oklahoma HB 3008 Introduced
Rep. Ken Luttrell announced on Monday that he filed House Bill 3008. The bill would bring in-person sports wagering to the state’s tribal gaming compact.
Luttrell has noted Oklahoma’s neighbors have already legalized some form of sports betting, with New Mexico taking retail bets, and Colorado has both in-person sportsbooks and a wide-open mobile sports betting market. In early 2022 Arkansas online sports betting is expected to be given the go-ahead.
Nearby Louisiana is on track to launch mobile sports betting soon. Brands including FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook Louisiana are ready to start operating as soon as it goes live.
"Illegal sports betting occurs throughout Oklahoma, and figures I obtained from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) show 11 offenses recently with tens of thousands of dollars seized," Luttrell told local press members. "This reflects only a fraction of what actually occurs in our state. The Oxford Economics Group estimates that legal sports betting would generate $240 million in revenue for Oklahoma and create over 3000 direct and indirect jobs. This legislation just makes sense."
Lawmakers have until Jan. 20 to introduce bills and joint resolutions. The next upcoming session starts on Feb. 7.
Sports betting in Oklahoma gained some traction during 2020 when the Comanche Nation and Otoe Missouria tribes negotiated gaming compacts with Gov. Kevin Stitt. But the state Supreme Court blocked the deal, stating it was not allowed since the legislature had yet to legalize sports betting.
"I have had conversations with our gaming tribes during the interim to gauge their interest on this topic," Luttrell said. "I feel the time is right for Oklahoma to partner with the tribes and ensure a level, competitive gaming playing field with the surrounding states."
Alabama Tries Again to Get Sports Betting
Alabama is still one of the few states without a state lottery. Gambling proposals have been brought up during legislative sessions for more than 20 years but none have been signed into law.
Proponents of gaming made progress last year with the Senate passing a bill to set up a state lottery and establish casinos in Alabama. However, the bill fell two votes short of passing in the House of Representatives.
On Tuesday, House Bill 72 was introduced to the state legislature. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Ralph Howard and would establish a state lottery, which would also permit sports betting through the newly formed lottery.
State Sen. Greg Albritton also told FOX10 he intends to introduce gaming legislation once again. Last year, one of the hold-ups was specific locations being assigned for new casinos. Those against the bill felt some part of the state were being left out when it came to discussing the new casino spots.
“The biggest stumbling block we had last year was the aspect of picking and choosing – telling folks who’s gonna shut down, and who isn’t; where you can or where you can’t,” Albrittion said to FOX10 News on Friday. “That created more obstacles that we needed to have.
“Let’s find a way that we can bring in everybody that’s involved with this industry. Let’s gain control of them, and let’s start regulating and taxing them right away.”
Albritton’s bill is still not written, but he mentioned it will include language making the gambling commission dependent on a constitutional amendment. He believes his proposal could produce up to $800 million. Last year’s bill was set to direct funds to broadband investments, but Albritton now feels the state has put funds into introducing high-speed internet to rural areas.
“My intent is to take the bulk of the money that we have from gaming and direct that toward mental health issues,” he told FOX10. “By that, I mean re-establish long-term care for mental health.”
If passed, the state’s voters would have the opportunity in November to amend the constitution to introduce a wide range of gambling, including a statewide lottery, sports wagering, slot machines and other casino games.
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