Is Sports Betting Legal in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma does not tout an exceedingly booming sports market. They have a few notable college programs but only one franchise across North America’s four major professional leagues. Their big-time options can essentially be winnowed down to the Oklahoma State Sooners’ basketball and football teams and the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder. Oddly enough, despite their relative dearth of marquee sports teams, OKC is trying to advance their stance on sports wagering.

Oklahoma Sports Betting Law

They have a bunch of casinos that operate within state lines, none of which, as of now, are able to offer sportsbooks. That in mind, the local government seems open to expanding the interpretation of the law to allow casinos to offer such an option. They just need the federal government to approve it, which is a separate issue unto itself.

Casinos in Volume

Oklahoma has 124 casinos within their state lines. You read that correctly: One. Two. Four.. They’re owned predominantly by 30 tribes and generate more than $4 billion in revenue per year for the state alone. These establishments are strategically located and grouped throughout Oklahoma.

There are single standalone casinos scattered around that aren’t closely tied to another one, but most run in the same county as one to other saloons.

Oklahoma also offers a few different large-scale clusters that feature four or more casinos in one area, mainly Ottawa County, Tulsa County, Kay County and Pottawatomie County.

Daily Fantasy Sports Dependent on Sportsbetting Legislation

Oklahoma explicitly outlaws games of chance, which they previously deemed to include daily fantasy sports. There is pending legislation that seeks to overturn this stance, but the future of DFS, while as of now unspecified, may be tied to the outcome of their attempts to legalize sportsbetting.

The Future of Sportsbetting in Oklahoma

Pending legislation would allow Oklahoma to open sportsbooks in their casinos.

The proposal is viewed favorably throughout the state branch, but it’s hung up in the red tape incumbent of federal policies. Most regions will have to wait on perhaps a collective ruling within the federal government before being given the green light, but a few could serve as guinea bigs to see how the market and revenue shifts in a new, wider-spread betting climate.

New Jersey is chief among those potential states, in part because of Atlantic City’s previous, albeit fading, popularity on the East Coast, but also because governor Chris Christie has been avidly chasing this legal sportsbetting for some time.

Oklahoma serves as another potential trial-basis experiment, almost entirely due to the fact that they have the overwhelming casino volume to prop up an adequate sample of returns.

Social Gambling Wonkiness 

Not unlike the state of Ohio, Oklahoma is inconsistent with the details of social gambling. 

Betting is generally deemed illegal when it’s not being officially regulated by the state government via licenses, taxes and fees, but it’s also only defined as gambling when someone turns a profit. Furthermore, the language thereafter seems to exclude a participant’s winnings as profit.

By this logic, then, social gambling only becomes a illegal if someone is to charge entry fees without participation or taking a “vig” off the top of final prize pools. That leaves you plenty of wiggle room with which to play, though you’ll want to be careful no matter what you’re doing, be it amongst friends or a larger-sized group, when it comes to wagering huge sums of money.

Oklahoma Gambling Law Overview

Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren’t allowed in Oklahoma at this time.

  • Casino Gambling: Legal
  • Tribal Gambling: Legal
  • Poker: Legal
  • Horse-Race Betting: Legal
  • Dog-Race Betting: Not legal
  • Lottery: Legal
  • Daily Fantasy Betting: Not legal (but there is a pending proposal, rendering it closer to not specified)
  • Social Gambling: Legal (with plenty of caveats)
  • Charitable Gambling: Legal
  • Online Gambling: Not specified

Oklahoma Sports Teams

Due to the absence of enough professional and collegiate teams in Oklahoma, we will split our focus between in-house squads and the most popular professional factions that are located outside state lines.

Oklahoma State Sooners (College Football)

The Oklahoma State Sooners have morphed into a bona fide powerhouse since head coach Bob Stoops took over in 1999. They have made a Bowl game in every year since.

They’re only 9-9 through those 18 championship-level appearances, and they lost their only cameo in the BCS National Championship Game, but it’s nonetheless hard to sustain this level of regular-season dominance and Bowl-game frequency for nearly two decades.

Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA)

The Oklahoma City Thunder franchise has been around the NBA, in some variation, for 50 seasons. However, they’ve only actually been in Oklahoma City since 2008. They were previously the Seattle Supersonics, before being sold, relocated and rebranded as the Thunder.

This iteration of the franchise is championship-less, but it remains one of the most relevant teams in the league. The Thunder have been to four Conference Finals and one NBA Finals over this short span, which is nothing short of incredible.

Imminent championship hopes were dashed once Kevin Durant left in free agency for the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 offseason. But the Thunder still have Russell Westbrook, one of the Association’s 10 best players, alongside another top-20 superstar in Paul George.

Their propensity for rebuilding and retooling on the fly these last seven or so years is unparalleled, and as a result, they’re due for at least one more season of title contention.

Dallas Cowboys (NFL)

So often referred to as “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys will always have plenty of fans in any given state. And with Oklahoma reasonably close to Dallas, it makes sense that their favored football squad is the Cowboys, who continue to engender interest thanks to their dominance during the 1990s. It was during that decade the Cowboys tallied three Super Bowl wins.

Their performance since, however, has ranged from rather regular to downright uninspiring. They’ve made just two playoff appearances over the last eight years, each of which, admittedly, came over the last three seasons. 

Now that they Dak Prescott is taking snaps under center, most are expecting a dominant level-renaissance. The Cowboys still play in the unfairly deep and talented and difficult NFC East division, but they finished an impressive 13-3 during the 2016 season.

Given the relative youthfulness of their core players, they are in position to remain in the national conscience for years to come, even if they never replicate that 13-win stretch from 2016.

As a bonus aside, yes, it’s weird that Oklahoma doesn’t have its own NFL team. They rank middle of the road in population (28th), according to a 2016 consensus, and have shown they can prop up two national draws in the Thunder and Sooners. And considering the devout loyalty which which they root for both squads, one would think the NFL could turn a nice profit off a homebase in OKC.

Oklahoma’s Biggest Sporting Event of the Year

Oklahoma isn’t big on baseball overall, but the Big 12 Tournament is still of much interest to sports fans who, depending on how successful the Thunder are that season, may not have anything to take in on the home front by the time late May rolls around. Plus, it helps that Oklahoma has a pretty good baseball team itself; they won eight-team double-elimination tournament in 2017. 

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