By a 17-8 margin Feb. 26, the Oklahoma House of Representative’s Appropriations and Budget Committee approved House Bill 3375, which would allow tribal casinos to offer craps, roulette and pooled sports betting. In exchange, the state would receive 10 percent of the proceeds from those games.
The Oklahoma Senate’s Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee approved a similar measure Feb. 27 and referred Senate Bill 1195 to the Appropriations Committee.
Should either measure be enacted, officials with the House of Representatives are projecting the change would generate $28 million annually for state coffers, with 88 percent of the money going to the state’s Education Reform Revolving Fund.
Traditionally, craps, roulette and other banked games are played against the house. However, as per the language in both versions of the bill, the games would be pooled, where the participants are competing against each other for the same pot of prize money.
According to a study commissioned by the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Commission, tribal casinos have paid the state more than $1.1 billion in exclusivity fees since the implementation of Oklahoma’s Class III gaming compacts in 2006.
The current tribal gaming compacts are set to end on Jan. 1, 2020. The compacts contain an evergreen clause, which means that unless a tribe or the state requests to renegotiate within 180 days of that deadline, the agreement terms roll over and remain in place.
“It’s always good to start thinking about it early,” OIGA Sheila Morago said. “However, OIGA would not start that conversation among tribes. Tribal leaders would have to initiate those discussions.”
When speaking before UINOKT members Monday, gaming expansion was the only Indian Country-specific topic addressed in gubernatorial candidate Mick Cornett’s prepared remarks. The Oklahoma City mayor said he supports the idea and did not elaborate or provide stipulations for his backing.