Oklahoma Senate OKs Craps, Roulette

Despite concerns over problem gambling, the Oklahoma Senate voted 30-16 to allow craps and roulette at tribal casinos. The games will bring the state an estimated $22 million next year and $49 million in following years for public education. Last year, the Senate rejected a similar measure which also would have allowed sports betting.

Oklahoma Senate OKs Craps, Roulette

The Oklahoma Senate recently voted 30-16 to pass Senate Bill 1195, which would allow tribal casinos to offer ball and dice games. Sponsored by state Senator Greg McCortney, experts estimated the measure would generate an additional $22 million next year and $49 million in subsequent years to support education. The legislation now moves to the House.

Prior to the vote, McCortney said allowing roulette and craps will attract more players who will stay longer at the casinos. State Senator Ron Sharp noted, “This is a positive impact for the state of Oklahoma in public education. This should be a no-brainer for us to vote under the situation we are into. I strongly recommend you vote yes on this bill.”

However, state Senator Roland Pederson said he was concerned the bill could lead to more addicted gamblers. State Senator Wayne Shaw added,

“Gambling is a tax on the poor. It is an extreme tax on the poor,” which also can result in broken marriages, lost jobs and suicide, Shaw said. In response, state Senator Stephanie Bice said, “I know there is a lot of dissension with this bill. I want to remind all of you of one thing: we are not changing if we should gamble in the state. We are only changing how we do that.”

Last year, the Oklahoma Senate rejected a similar measure which also would have allowed sports betting at tribal casinos.

Currently, tribes pay 10 percent of winnings in “exclusivity fees” to the state, plus a percentage of revenues from certain electronic games. The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services receives $250,000 annually from that amount; 12 percent of the remaining amount goes to the state’s general fund and 88 percent goes to public education. In the last fiscal year, Oklahoma collected about $134 million in exclusivity fees, an increase of $2 million over the previous year.