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Sports Betting Likely Not a Big Deal if Stitt, Tribes Go for New Gaming Compact

Baishampayan Ghose

Oklahomans still can’t legally bet on basketball, football and other events nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for sports betting.

Some wonder if Governor Kevin Stitt and Oklahoma tribes ever get to the negotiating table whether it could be worked into gaming compacts.

Some have guessed the illegal sports betting market is a $400 billion industry. OSU business professor John Holden, however, said it probably isn’t that lucrative.

"More cautious estimates believe that the amount of money being wagered illegally is probably around $150 billion," Holden said.

Both sides should temper expectations based on Nevada’s cut of sports betting.

"Nevada, over the years is sort of between 4% and 6% when you start expanding out and extrapolating on the revenues that the state or the sports book’s actually holding for themselves," Holden said.

When lawmakers approved ball and dice games for casinos in 2017, tribes agreed to pay 10% of those revenues to the state, more than double their exclusivity fee for other games. Sports betting likely won’t command the same premium.

"It has been shown it can bring people into casinos, but a state looking to sort of solve all its fiscal problems by adding sports betting to casinos … are going to be sorely disappointed," Holden said.

Stitt and the tribes remain at odds over whether compacts expired or renewed automatically at the end of 2019. They’re asking a federal judge to resolve the dispute.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.