Is Gambling in Oklahoma Legal?
Oklahoma is the Tribal gaming capital of the United States, home to the largest tribal casino operations in the entire country. The ones running these operations are the descendants of the resettled Indian tribes from the States.
Majority of the gambling options resides within the lands of the natives, but considering the fact that there are over 111 casinos dotted around the state, with each county being home to at least one gaming facility, residents aren’t exactly complaining about a lack of gambling opportunities.
In general gambling is considered legal assuming it takes place in a regulated venue and as long as you take note of all the relevant gambling laws in Oklahoma you’ll be clear from the local authorities.
Gambling Laws in Oklahoma
The main factor in determining whether a particular game in considered illegal is the “bet” element.
Let’s take a look at the state’s definition of “bet”, found in section 21-981 of Oklahoma’s Statutes:
“A “bet” is a bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance, or in which one of the parties to the transaction has valid reason to believe that it is dependent upon chance, one stands to win or lose something of value specified in the agreement.”
Based on this definition, the state has more or less every form of gambling covered, unless it is explicitly made legal.
For even further clarification, there is also a law defining the meaning of “gambling”, which can be found under section 21-941:
“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.”
If you didn’t think they have every possible game covered before, you certainly should now, especially when they specifically listed certain games that are usually subjects of the “chance vs skill” argument. With this, poker is undoubtedly illegal, unless stated otherwise. Having said that, poker is indeed legal, as long as it’s played at one of the many regulated tribal casinos.
Another vital law that one should always familiarise themselves, especially in the case of gambling online, is the “gambling device” law:
“A “gambling device” is a contrivance designed primarily for gambling purposes which for a consideration affords the player an opportunity to obtain something of value, the award of which is determined by chance, or any token, chip, paper, receipt or other document which evidences, purports to evidence or is designed to evidence participation in a lottery or the making of a bet. The fact that the prize is not automatically paid by the device does not affect its character as a gambling device;”
Oklahoma Gambling Options
Casino: With over 111 casinos, this is hands down the predominant form of gambling within Oklahoma. All of these are tribal casinos, and offer a wide range of casino games one would expect, such as class-II and class-III machines, as well as the common types of table games.
Poker: With so many tribal casinos, and most offering some type of poker, you can be sure you’ll find the right choice for you. There are no carve-out for social games, therefore private home poker games are technically illegal, though we believe they are still played regardless.
Sports Betting: There is pari-mutuel bets on horse racing at the racetracks.
Lottery: There are both a state lottery, as well as inter-state games.
Bingo: These can be found under the category of “charity games”, and each requires its own license.
Online Gambling in Oklahoma
If you’ve been reading our other state pages, chances are you think we sound like a broken record, especially when it comes to our take on online gambling for any given state. The truth is, however, we say the same thing because most states indeed have more or less the same laws, or lack thereof, in regards to online gambling.
Oklahoma is no different. There are no specific laws for online gambling. With that being said, there are also other laws that could potentially be interpreted as laws to restrict online gambling, such as the law for a “gambling device”, which we have provided above in the law section.
Thankfully, Oklahoma gives us an opportunity to prove that we aren’t simply bots, regurgitating the same thing over and over on all our state pages. The difference is that Oklahoma does have precedent in making arrest for illegal online gambling.
The case in question is the 2011 high profile case in which a city cop, Roland Benavides, was indicted for crimes related to illegal gambling. He was indicted on three counts, with one being the use of a computer to violate the Anti-gambling act.
Although part of the reason for his arrest was his involvement in illegal online gambling, the major trigger to this investigation stemmed from his being a state police officer, more so than his being an online gambler.
The point is, know that if you’re thinking about playing private social games within state lines, that authorities have gone out of there way to make an arrest before, albeit only the one time.
Oklahoma Poker Online
As we have already mentioned above, there are no specific laws in regards to online poker. The law does not explicitly outlaw online poker, so technically speaking, at least on a federal level, it is legal for Okies to play online at legal offshore poker sites.
The Future of Oklahoma Poker Online
With the status quo already generating so much revenue for the state coffee, and so much power being wielded by the tribes, it’s hard to believe the state would consider any further legislations for more gambling within state lines. Even if they did, it would certainly involve heavy negotiations with the tribes.