If you’re an avid sports fan and you’ve somehow managed to avoid the legal challenges related to sports betting, you may be wondering why it’s still completely illegal in Oklahoma. After all, the state did legalize gaming, and many people feel that sports betting is just a natural extension of that. However, things are a little bit more complicated than that. Here are the reasons why sports betting is still considered illegal in Oklahoma.
State Law Hasn’t Changed
The first and most obvious reason why sports betting is still illegal in Oklahoma is simply because the law hasn’t changed. The state originally banned gaming and sports betting in 1991. However, this didn’t take effect until 1998, and even then, there were exemptions for horse racing and jai alai. Additionally, the NCAA didn’t want to lose all of its revenue from football betting, so it sent a representative to meet with the state legislature to fight for an exemption. The state eventually gave the NCAA an exemption for college sports in 1999, but the rest of the ban on sports betting and gaming was still in effect. That part of the law did finally get lifted in 2014. At this point, it’s worth noting that the state has changed its mind about the morality of sports betting at least four times since 1991. It was originally outlawed because it was considered to be a form of gambling. Then it was made legal because the state felt that it encouraged competition. In 2014, the Oklahoma State Legislature determined that it wasn’t harmful to society and that it should be legalized. Finally, let’s not forget that in some states, sports betting is still considered illegal. For example, in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, it is considered to be gambling, and as a result, they have legalized online gambling, but sports betting remains illegal.
Varying Legal Opinion
Aside from the fact that state law hasn’t changed, another reason why sports betting is still illegal in Oklahoma is because of the varying legal opinions that exist within the state. This is especially true when it comes to universities and colleges that want to offer sports betting as an extra activity. According to Section 53.1-239 of the Oklahoma Statutes, “(n)o person licensed to conduct casinos, as defined in Section 2-103 of this title, shall engage in sports gambling, as defined in this section, on any other site or in any other form.” Now, in order to offer sports betting, a university or college would have to get a license from the Oklahoma Gaming Control Board. However, since the board issues these licenses for casino-related activities only, many view this as a contradiction. Therefore, if a university or college wants to offer sports betting, they are considered to be breaking the law.
No Uniform Penalty
One more thing that makes sports betting illegal in Oklahoma is that there is no uniform penalty for breaking this law. In some cases, people who are found to be actively engaged in sports gambling can be fined up to $25,000. In other cases, those found to be involved in sports betting can be sentenced to up to a year in prison. Still others have had their gambling franchise temporarily suspended or revoked. Unfortunately, since there is no set penalty for this type of activity, it makes proving that someone has broken this law a bit tricky. In some situations, the legality of sports betting can be contested through a legal case, which can then be adjudicated by a judge. Of course, this is a lot of work, and it doesn’t always result in the person who is accused of breaking the law being convicted. In other cases, the only recourse for the person who is accused of breaking the law is to pay a large sum of money to fight the accusation in court. This is something that thousands of people have done over the years. It’s also worth noting that because there is no clear penalty for breaking this law, many people are likely to assume that it’s simply not enforced. As a result, many people are likely to think that it’s legal to bet on sports in Oklahoma. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
As you can see, there are many reasons why sports betting is still illegal in Oklahoma. However, the most important reason is simply because the law hasn’t changed, and it will never change as long as state lawmakers continue to hear from gambling lobbyists that this is an “economic issue” and that “the market needs to decide how to regulate itself.” In other words, as long as state politicians think that making money off of sports is somehow “good for society,” it will remain illegal in Oklahoma. Ultimately, if you live in Oklahoma and you’re considering participating in sports betting, it’s best to assume that it’s still illegal and to avoid any kind of trouble. Even if you’re not interested in risking legal troubles, it’s still a good idea to avoid participating in this form of gambling.