Oklahoma Gambling Guide

Oklahoma has the United States second largest Native American population,
behind California at almost 322,000.

Because of this, it understandable why they also have America’s biggest
tribal gaming market with 126 casinos.

These tribal gaming interests have driven Oklahoma’s attempts at establishing
a legal online gambling market, but so far, their attempts have been thwarted by
the government.

Why is this the case? Will tribal casinos break through with Internet
gambling any time soon?

Find out as we cover the Sooner State’s online gaming market and laws.

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Online Gambling and Oklahoma Law

Aside from their large number of tribal casinos, Oklahoma isn’t tolerant
towards gambling.

They have harsh penalties in place for any form of unlicensed gaming. The
Sooner State has even arrested somebody for gambling online.

This makes playing Internet poker and casino games a scary proposition. Do
you really need to fear iGaming in Oklahoma though?

Let’s take a closer look at their gambling laws to see the precedent for this
activity.

Is Online Gambling Legal in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma doesn’t contain specific language that covers online gaming, but the
Oklahoma Constitution features a damning section against illegal gambling
operators.

Code 21-941 states the following:

“Except as provided in the Oklahoma Charity Games Act, every person who
opens, or causes to be opened, or who conducts, whether for hire or not, or
carries on either poker, roulette, craps or any banking or percentage, or any
gambling game played with dice, cards or any device, for money, checks, credits,
or any representatives of value, or who either as owner or employee, whether for
hire or not, deals for those engaged in any such game, shall be guilty of a
felony, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less
than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), nor more than Two Thousand Dollars
($2,000.00), and by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for a term of not
less than one (1) year nor more than ten (10) years.”

Since offshore operators aren’t licensed in Oklahoma, they’re technically
subject to these harsh penalties. If convinced, owners could spend up to 10
years in a state penitentiary.

This should be enough to scare off Internet gambling sites, but as we’ll
cover throughout, plenty of iGaming sites are still found in the Sonner State.

In summary, Oklahoma views any unlicensed form of gambling as illegal –
including Internet gaming.

Will I be Arrested for Gambling Online in Oklahoma?

The Sooner State isn’t much easier on players who participate in
non-sanctioned gambling. Here’s how code 21-942 describes illegal gambling and
penalties:

“Any person who bets or plays at any of said prohibited games, or who shall
bet or play at any games whatsoever, for money, property, checks, credits or
other representatives of value with cards, dice or any other device which may be
adapted to or used in playing any game of chance or in which chance is a
material element, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof
shall be punished by a fine of not less than Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00), nor
more than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail
for a term of not less than one (1) day, nor more than thirty (30) days, or by
both such fine and imprisonment.”

The fact that you can spend 30 days in jail for participating in illegal
gambling seems harsh to us.

The good news is that it’s highly unlikely anybody would ever face a penalty
this stiff for iGaming. In fact, we’ve only found one Internet gambling arrest
in the state.

Former Oklahoma City Police detective Roland Benavides was arrested in 2011,
and charged with violating the state’s anti-gambling laws and
using a computer to gamble.

But there are important aspects worth noting about Benavides’ case:

  • He placed bets with a man who ran an online sports betting site on
    Oklahoma soil.
  • Authorities decided to go after both the operator (David Tune) and the
    players.
  • He’s a police officer, which puts him under greater scrutiny for
    Internet gambling.

Assistant Attorney General Charles Rogers noted the last point when saying,
“Obviously, we don’t want police officers gambling because it can compromise
their job.”

Benavides’ case is special, considering that he was both a police detective
and somebody playing at an Oklahoma based online sportsbook.

This looks to be an isolated incident, and your odds of being arrested for
online gambling in Oklahoma are very slim.

Can Tribes Offer Online Gambling?

No, but this isn’t due to a lack of effort.

The Arapaho and Cheyenne Tribes launched PokerTribes.com without government
approval in 2013. This online poker site offered real money play to Oklahomans.

Governor Mary Fallin explained that the state’s tribal compact doesn’t allow
for online poker.

She did allow the Arapaho and Cheyenne to offer Internet gambling to
international players in exchange for 20% of their revenue.

The Department of Indian Affairs blocked this though, explaining that the
IGRA doesn’t cover online gambling. Both tribes dropped the legal battle after
spending almost $10 million on the site.

In 2016, the Iowa Tribe obtained PokerTribes.com, and launched it as a play
money site. Following legal challenges, they won the right to run PokerTribes
from their reservation.

Are Offshore Gaming Sites Safe?

Considering that the only legal iGaming in Oklahoma is a play money poker
site, most residents head for offshore gaming sites. Is your money safe with
these offshore companies though?

In most cases, yes, but this also depends upon the site you choose.

We recommend that you check out several reviews on any prospective gaming
site. Some of the key points you want to look for include:

  • Longevity
  • This is a key factor because the longer a site has been
    around, the more likely they are to have good service.

  • Reputability
  • What are other players saying about a particular site? We
    recommend scouring online customer complaints to make sure that an offshore
    gaming site doesn’t have any major problems.

  • Customer Service
  • Most reviews cover customer service, but it also helps
    to check out the support for yourself by contacting live chat with a simple
    question.

  • Bonus Wagering Requirements
  • Always read the fine print under any
    welcome bonus before depositing to make sure that you have a realistic shot
    at earning it.

  • Variety of Games
  • The more games/sportslines you have access to,
    the more long term entertainment you’ll get out of a particular site.

  • Banking Options
  • Check out a casino or poker room’s banking page to
    make sure they have a deposit option you can use.

Also On This Page

More Gambling Laws in Oklahoma

  • Casino Games: Legal (Tribal Only)
  • Sports Betting:Illegal
  • Poker: Legal
  • Racing Betting:Legal
  • Lottery: Legal
  • Bingo: Legal
  • Charitable Gambling: Legal
  • Social Gambling: Illegal

Casinos: Legal


Many states only allow tribal casinos to offer Class II gaming. This is
limiting because it consists of bingo, pull tabs, punchboards and slot machines
(bingo oriented results).

Oklahoma, however, lets their tribes negotiate for both Class II and Class
III games. The latter includes baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette, slot
machines (random number generator) and video poker.

The State Tribal Gaming Act of 2004 gives tribes the right to offer Class II
and III gaming, provided the government approves.

The result has been a success, with tribal casinos earning over $4 billion
per year.

The tribes pay the state exclusivity fees based on Class III winnings. In
exchange, Oklahoma agrees not to legalize commercial casinos as long as this
money keeps pouring in.

The Sooner State collected over $130 million in annual exclusivity fees.

Charitable Gambling: Legal


The Oklahoma Charity Games Act allows approved charities to offer certain
types of gambling.

Code 21-1051v2 (3)(a) considers eligible charities to include churches,
parent teacher organizations, public schools, private schools and student
groups. 100% of all proceeds must go to the designated charity.

As per Title 3A, licensed charities can only offer bingo, pull tabs and
raffles.

Lottery: Legal


Despite their nickname, the Sooner State waited until 2004 to pass their
lottery. Games offered by the Oklahoma Lottery include Cash 5, Hot Lotto, Mega
Millions, Pick 3, Poker Pick and Powerball.

Poker: Legal


Oklahoma features a large number of poker rooms in its tribal casinos.

Most of these live poker venues are small, ranging from 4 to 10 tables.
WinStar World Casino & Resort offers a large poker room though, with 46 tables
and many tournaments.

Racing: Legal


Passed in 1984, the Oklahoma Horse Racing Act allows pari-mutuel betting on
horse races.

Live racing is permitted at Blue Ribbon Downs, Remington Park and Will Rogers
Downs. The state criminal code bans making horseracing wagers by phone in the
Sooner State.

In 2004, voters approved a measure to allow slot machines and video poker at
racetracks.

The only catch is that no gaming machine can dispense cash or coins. Of
course, this isn’t much of a hang-up because most slot machines dispense tickets
anyways.

Social Gambling: Illegal


Going back to code 21-942, this makes both hosting and playing in unlicensed
gambling functions illegal. Given that social gambling doesn’t receive an
exemption, it’s illegal.

This means that you’re violating the law by playing in-home poker games and
sports betting pools, but are you really going to be arrested for doing so?

The only arrest records we’ve found involve other circumstances beyond
gambling.

The Cary Police Department, in conjunction with the National Guard, raided a
warehouse based poker game and

cited 41 players for illegal gambling
. The reason why the National Guard was
called is because police correctly assumed that guns and drugs were in the
warehouse.

In 2013, an undercover sting netted two bar owners for

running and profiting from an illegal poker game
. The Newson6 report
concludes that the 47 players “could also face arrest.”

We’re sure that Oklahoma features thousands of other social gambling
functions on a monthly basis. The difference is that they stay out of the legal
radar because the host isn’t profiting, nor is anything illegal (guns/drugs)
going on.

Gambling Venues in Oklahoma

With 126 casinos, Oklahoma features a huge gambling industry when compared to
their population of 3.8 million.

They also have one of the world’s largest casinos in Thackerville’s WinStar.
The WinStar World Casino features over 7,400 slot machines and nearly 100 table
games.

The next biggest casino is Norman’s Riverwind, which has 2,700 gaming
machines and almost 100 table games.

Below, you can see these two casinos along with a few others in Oklahoma:

Oklahoma Map

    1) 7 Clans First Council Casino Hotel

    12875 U.S. 77, Newkirk, OK 47647

    2) Apache Casino Hotel

    2315 East Gore Boulevard, Lawton, OK 73501

    3) The Black Hawk Casino

    42008 Westech Rd, Shawnee, OK 74804

    4) Buffalo Run Casino & Resort

    1000 Buffalo Run Boulevard, Miami, OK 74354

    5) Casino Oklahoma

    220 East Cummins Street, Hinton, OK 73047

    6) Firelake Casino

    41207 Hardesty Rd, Shawnee, OK 74801

    7) Hard Rock Casino & Hotel Tulsa

    777 W Cherokee St, Catoosa, OK 74015

    8) Remington Park Casino

    Remington Pl, Oklahoma City, OK 73111

    9) Riverwind Casino

    1544 OK-9, Norman, OK 73072

    10) WinStar World Casino & Resort

    777 Casino Ave, Thackerville, OK 73459

History of Gambling in Oklahoma

The Sooner State’s first legal gaming move started in 1916, when they banned
all gambling.

In 1983, the State Legislature passed the Oklahoma Horse Racing Act. This
allowed state residents to participate in pari-mutuel betting at racetracks.

The most impactful event in Oklahoma’s gambling history happened in 1988,
when the federal government passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

The IGRA allows Native American tribes to negotiate casino compacts with
states. This has led to Oklahoma having America’s largest tribal gaming market.

The Sooner State has a weird history with Internet gambling. Two tribes tried
opening a real money poker site in 2013 on the grounds that they’re sovereign
entities.

The state blocked them, citing that their casino compact doesn’t include
iGaming. The Iowa Tribe relaunched PokerTribes.com, but it’s only for play
money.

Below, you can see these legal events and others in Oklahoma’s gaming
history.

1916

Oklahoma bans all forms of gambling.

1983

State Legislature passes Oklahoma Horse Racing Act.

1988

Federal government passes Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

2004

Voter referendum approves tribal casinos and racinos.

2005

Oklahoma legalizes a state lottery.

2011

Officer Roland Benavides is arrested for online horseracing betting.

2013

Arapaho and Cheyenne Tribes are blocked from offering PokerTribes.com.

2014

Indian casinos collectively earn over $4 billion in gambling revenue.

2016

The Iowa Tribe relaunches PokerTribes.com as a play money site.

2017

Daily fantasy sports bill introduced.

Oklahoma FAQs

The Sooner State doesn’t take a light stance towards gambling or punishments.
They also have lots of offshore gaming sites operating in their state.

What’s the deal with this?

Let’s find out by addressing several FAQs we’ve received on Oklahoma’s
Internet gambling market.

Why does Oklahoma Allow Offshore Gambling Sites if They’re Illegal?

Oklahoma doesn’t allow offshore gaming sites. Instead, they merely tolerate
them because they have more important issues to worry about.

Earlier, we covered the case of David Tune, where he was arrested for running
an online sportsbook. Tune was an easy target because he lived on Oklahoma soil.

It takes far more work to go after an offshore site when the owners live
outside the U.S.

The best example of this can be seen with the
United
States v. Scheinberg case
, where U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara went after the
world’s largest online poker sites.

Operating on behalf of the powerful U.S. District of Southern New York, and
backed by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bharara brought these offshore
operators down.

Oklahoma can’t/won’t expend the resources that the U.S. Department of Justice
did just to bring down offshore gaming sites.

They’re the nation’s 28th largest state, and it’s very unlikely that they
will pursue legal action in countries like Antigua & Barbuda, Costa Rica and
Panama.

Are Daily Fantasy Sports Legal in Oklahoma?

No.

According to ESPN, Oklahoma probed a “money hunt” contest, where dog owners compete to
see whose dog tracks prey the best. These cash based sporting contests were
deemed an illegal bet by the state.

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) obviously feature a different format from a money
hunt, but all unlicensed betting is considered illegal in the Sooner State.

Nevertheless, the Oklahoma Attorney General has yet to make a definitive
statement on DFS. Until then, DraftKings and FanDuel continue to serve
Oklahomans.

At the time of this writing, the State Legislature is reviewing a DFS bill.
It’s questionable whether or not it’ll pass since tribal gaming interests are
against the activity.

Will Oklahoma Legalize Online Gambling?

Probably, but it will be in the distant future.

The only way that Oklahoma will legalize Internet gambling is if the tribes,
government and Department of Indian Affairs are all onboard.

The fact that two tribes tried jumping into the real money iGaming arena and
the Iowa Tribe currently offers a play money site makes it promising.

The state did make it clear that they don’t approve of offering Internet
gaming to Oklahomans though. The Department of Indian Affairs also blocked the
Arapaho and Cheyenne Tribes attempts at serving international players after Gov.
Fallin approved.

Chances are that Oklahoma won’t seriously begin considering Internet gambling
until neighboring states legalize the activity.

Additional Resources

The Sooner State has multiple government and tribal agencies that oversee
their gambling market. Here’s a look at each of these governing bodies’ details.

The state’s Indian Gaming Association oversees the 100+ tribal gambling
facilities throughout Oklahoma. They also work with the state to ensure that
tribes are properly benefiting from casino gaming.

The Office for State Finance is tasked with working with the Indian Gaming
Association to make sure the state is carrying out its end of the tribal gaming
compact.

The Games Compliance unit is a division of the Office for State Finance. This
agency helps carry out the OSF’s duties in working with tribal gaming entities.

The Future & Your Views

Oklahoma has some of America’s least friendly laws against gambling.

Online gaming should be considered illegal here, even in the absence of
direct language.

You’ll still find a wide range of online casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks
operating in the state anyway. Like many other states, Oklahoma isn’t overly
concerned with catching online gamblers and operators.

The only relevant case we saw involved an online sportsbook that was
operating out of Oklahoma. The same case also featured a police officer who was
busted for making online bets.

Aside from this unique incident, we don’t expect any other players to be
arrested. The Sooner State doesn’t have enough manpower to concern themselves
with Internet gambling.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma won’t legalize iGaming any time soon. They already
blocked two tribes from offering online poker, and weren’t willing to
renegotiate a new gaming compact.

Neighbors like Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas
will need to start considering the activity before Oklahoma gets serious. These
are also states that aren’t focused on Internet gambling.

In the meantime, Oklahomans can enjoy DFS and offshore gaming sites.