Online Gambling For Real Money in Oklahoma
After nearly a hundred years of wide-open saloon gambling, Oklahoma spent almost a century without any legal gambling whatsoever, however it has since made a big comeback. Oklahoma is now one of the gambling capitals of the United States, and it’s not even that the state government has become fond of it, this has happened due to Oklahoma having such a large number of federally recognized Indian tribes who own a huge chunk of land in this state.
Oklahoma has the second largest number of casinos of any state, all of them Indian casinos. They are well distributed geographically, providing relatively easy access to everyone. Even so, you can’t beat the access of gambling on the internet at real money online sites, and while some states offer this, Oklahoma is far from one of them.
While a great number of Oklahoma gamblers have resigned themselves to having to wait years for this freedom, there is a whole new frontier out there to be discovered. With the same adventurism as the original Sooners, a lot of players are discovering that they can gamble online sooner than they thought.
History of Gambling in Oklahoma
During the early settlement days which begun in Oklahoma in the early 19th century, at a time when the area was called Indian Territory, public gambling was common and the territory had a number of saloons with poker being played at the tables, with sidearms being used to regulate the games, sometimes fairly and sometimes not.
Oklahoma was sparsely settled in those days, and it wasn’t until almost a century later, in the 1890s, when it finally became a state and constructed a system of laws, when the state was really opened up for settlement.
Prior to statehood, Oklahoma was used as a repository for Indian tribes from elsewhere in the country who were put off their ancestral lands in other states, particularly in the American South, where their lands were seized and they were forced to walk to Oklahoma during the event which came to be called the Trail of Tears. Many Indians did not survive the journey, but the ones that did were given lands in the Indian Territory, and half of Oklahoma’s land area today is considered Indian land.
Once Oklahoma became a state in 1890 and became aggressively settled by non-Indians, banning gambling was at the top of the list, and the new government swiftly made all forms of gambling, both public and private, against the law. The claim was that gambling was held to be immoral, a view that is still held by many to this day, although it isn’t made clear why this would be the case and like a lot of views it has survived virtually unexamined.
These laws have not changed much since, still being seen as somewhat immoral but perhaps less so than in the earlier days of the state, but this view changing did take a lot of time, almost a century in fact. It wasn’t until 1982 that the state of Oklahoma got its first legal gambling, when pari-mutuel wagering first became allowed.
Oklahoma currently has 3 racetracks which allow bettors to wager on horse races. Eventually these casinos were also given Class II gaming licenses, which also allows them to offer slot machines alongside their horse race betting, helping them survive in today’s gambling landscape, which has changed dramatically in the last couple of decades.
It took 10 years from the time that horse race betting became legal for Oklahoma to finally legalize charity bingo and raffles, but this may be due to the horse racing lobby being considerably more influential than that of charitable gambling. Some states also allow social gambling, but Oklahoma has not even progressed this far yet, but there is no one at all to speak for social gamblers.
1992 was the year that the Indian tribes started to make some real noise in their quest to get into the gambling business by way of the 1988 federal decision to allow federally regulated Indian tribes to offer gambling on their own tribal lands whether the state that their land is located in wishes them to or not.
Oklahoma has the second largest Indian population of any state, and don’t just have a few tribes, they have 33 or them, and own half the land in the state, which was recently re-affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States, the same court that conveyed these rights upon the Indians that prompted Congress to pass a law allowing it in the aftermath.
The Chocktaw Indians started the whole thing off in 1987 by offering high-stakes bingo, in opposition to the state’s wishes, but by 1992 Oklahoma realized that it did not have any choice but to enter into agreements with their tribes to offer slots as well with Class II gaming licenses. The Indians wanted Class III licenses instead, although the state fought this vigorously and the legal battle continued for 12 years, until in 2004, the parties finally agreed to a 15 year compact where the Indians were given Class III licenses if they wished.
The next year, in 2005, Oklahoma finally decided that if they were going to have Class III casinos in their state, they might as well have a lottery as well, and the Oklahoma Lottery was finally born. The time that a state has taken to legalize a state lottery gives us good insight into how permissible they see gambling, and Oklahoma was one of the last states to do this among the 45 states that have lotteries.
2020 saw the state’s compact with their Indian tribes expire and in need of renewal, and the fact that the state of Oklahoma fought so hard to be rid of this compact shows that the attitude toward gambling hasn’t improved very much, to say the least, over the 15 years that the original compact was in force. The Indians won out again in court, and the original compact was successfully renewed.
To say that Indian gaming dominates Oklahoma’s real money gambling scene is an understatement. Their 143 Indian casinos is far and away the most in any state, over twice as many as second place California. Oklahoma also boasts the world’s largest casino period, and Indian casino gaming is the second biggest industry in the state. It is still growing in leaps and bounds and even more expansion is on the horizon.
Oklahoma Gambling Laws
In a state that has taken a rather dim view of gambling from the day Oklahoma became a state until today, it should not surprise us that Oklahoma’s view toward gambling would involve at least a strong attempt to outlaw all of it. This is not quite South Carolina, who even have laws against playing gambling games even for fun, or Utah, which allows no gambling whatsoever, but Oklahoma has gone out of their way to communicate the fact that they do not permit gambling aside from their lottery, charity bingo and raffles, and their racinos.
Oklahoma actually has added in provisions not even necessary to ensure that there is no doubt about the comprehensiveness of its anti-gambling provisions as they apply to casino gambling and poker. Just telling us that betting or playing at any games whatsoever for anything of value is as comprehensive sounding as these things get, but they still felt the need to mention various methods to do this such as dice or cards or any other device used to gamble as being included.
Interestingly, Oklahoma defines “bet” separately, using the term “dependent upon chance,” and if this stood alone, this would at least call into question whether certain types of gambling such as poker and sports betting would be included, given that poker is at least partly dependent upon skill, substantially so in fact, and sports betting does not involve chance at all.
However, the fact that it is both illegal to bet and play games for real money, any game for money, their definition of bet does not even matter given that it is illegal to play a game for money whether or not the wagering can be construed to be a bet under Oklahoma law or not.
Casino games are obviously included, as they do involve both playing at games for money, and also involve the use of devices that are used to decide gambling outcomes. All land-based casino gambling involves gambling devices defined this broadly, including the computers in slot machines, games of cards, wheels, dice, or anything else that casinos may use to decide the outcome of bets made with them.
Poker is also a game that people play for money, and while whether poker is considered a game of chance or not is subject to debate, the fact that it is a game played for money is not. Oklahoma also throws in a specific prohibition against playing games of cards for money to put even more emphasis on this, even though it is not needed to know with certainty that playing poker for money is included in the state’s illegal wagering.
Oklahoma therefore has managed to completely prohibit two of the three major forms of gambling, casino games and poker, but as is so often the case, they miss at least a bit with trying to outlaw sports betting.
There are some that may interpret the term chance in gambling law as including sports betting, with the view that bettors are taking a chance by betting on sporting contests to be decided in the future, like you might do on a blackjack hand. The fact that chance is involved with blackjack is what really defines it regarding whether it is a game of chance or not, but sporting events do not involve chance. A game of chance is different than taking a chance, and it is whatever can be found to be a game of chance that decides whether a bet is made on it under Oklahoma’s definition of it.
This is therefore clearly not a bet, which leaves the need to demonstrate that the other condition, playing a game for money, would include sports betting. There are a lot of states that simply leave sports betting out by just banning games of chance, and at least Oklahoma has left the question open as to whether or not wagering on sports would be “playing” a game or not. In spite of a good argument to the contrary, it is unlikely that an Oklahoman court would not see sports betting as playing a game or be deemed illegal by way of some other interpretation.
Land-Based Gambling in Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s three horse racing tracks got Oklahoma’s legal gambling started in 1982, and they all still offer pari-mutuel wagering, in addition to their now being given the ability to offer a slot parlor as well, turning them into what are considered racinos.
Oklahoma later allowed for charitable bingo and raffles, although it took 10 years to even add something of such low controversy. It took another 15 years on top of this for Oklahoma to finally decide to get in the gambling business themselves and finally create a state lottery. The Oklahoma Lottery is your typical state lottery which offers both its own games and national jackpot games.
The overwhelming majority of Oklahoma’s gambling happens at its huge number of Indian casinos. Oklahoma’s Indian gaming revenue is second only to California’s, although California has 10 times the population of Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s spending on gambling per person is second only to Nevada, so although the state provides so few options, the massive scale of Indian gaming has propelled this below average state in size to a major player in the U.S. gambling industry.
When you have 143 casinos spread out over a population of about 4 million, that’s what you call penetration, with only Nevada having more. Nevada gets the great majority of its casino action from tourism though, while Oklahomans are the ones driving a lot of the casino business in their state.
We might think that having this many casinos catering to such a relatively small population would mean a whole lot of small casinos, and while Oklahoma has plenty of those, they also have some pretty big casinos as well among this bunch.
The Winstar World Casino and Resort earns its use of world in their title, as this is the world’s largest casino. It has over 600,000 of gaming space, including 9 themed gambling plazas, hosting 7,400 electronic gambling machines, 100 table games, a 46 seat poker room, bingo, keno, and off-track betting.
The rest of Oklahoma’s top 5 largest casinos are also pretty impressive. The Choctaw Casino Resort Durant is among the biggest casinos in the country with their 4,200 slots, 42 table games, and 30 table poker room. The River Spirit Casino rolls out 3,100 slots, 23 table games, and 15 poker tables. The Riverwind Casino has 2,700 slots, 20 table games, and 17 poker tables. The Hard Rock Casino Tulsa rounds out the list with 2,600 slots and 40 poker and table games.
The sheer reach of Oklahoma’s Indian casinos is very impressive and the state as a whole is well served currently, with even more expansion on the horizon. Oklahoma’s Indian casinos are also looking to get the ability to offer sports betting, and if not for a court ruling against them, they would have it now, although this may happen soon anyway.
Oklahoma Online Casinos & Slots Gambling
Oklahoma does not authorize online gambling in any form, and there are no plans currently to do so. It is not uncommon for there to be at least some movement towards an online gambling bill of some sort, but this is completely absent in Oklahoma
There really isn’t much of a reason to think that real money online gambling in Oklahoma would be anything but illegal, and engaging in it would risk being charged with a misdemeanor in theory at least, it turns out that this only happens in theory since there isn’t a practical way to discover these breaches of the law.
Oklahoma regulated real money online gambling is likely years away, but it turns out that many Oklahoman gamblers have been playing anyway, and continue to do so. It turns out that breaking Oklahoma’s gambling laws is subject to prosecution if the gambling is land-based, but online gambling is outside their view entirely.
They rely on the honor system to have their gambling laws obeyed online, where the pull of obeying the law for its own sake goes up against the will to take advantages of opportunities to gamble with real money at casino and poker games and bet on sports.
Obeying laws as a matter of principle, just because it’s against the law, is generally a benefit to society provided that our laws are constructed to benefit society. If there is a law that we can avoid prosecution with but there are good reasons to obey it anyway, one then has to choose between what may be good for them versus good for society. It can be reasonable to choose to refrain, but under these conditions we should at least be seeking some benefit someone when we choose to obey or disobey a law that does not involve any possible sanctions to us.
When we examine the merits of anti-gambling laws, all they serve to do is to seek to impose the personal preferences of the majority on how we may conduct our own lives and spend our own money, and this surely isn’t a public good, no more than a mob beating up on someone just because they don’t like them could be.
When deciding to obey these laws based upon principle alone, we have to look closely at the actual principles involved, the principle that the government can tell us how to spend our money in cases where they object, versus the principle that governments should have actual cause to interfere with this, where there is some objective good reason to do so.
Those who do choose to exercise their liberty and gamble online in opposition to the will of the government of Oklahoma are the ones that are actually acting upon principle, versus obeying laws without question in cases where the justification for doing so is absent. In deciding between right and wrong, these decisions must be based upon actually looking at the rightness or wrongness of a deed, and many Oklahomans have come to the conclusion that not having their liberty trampled on without cause is the right side of the debate.
The claim that gambling is immoral that these laws are predicated on has no substantial basis in fact, and its claims are ultimately no more persuasive than ordering people to drive certain types of cars and ban unpopular colors such as orange, and using this preference to criminalize the choice. Charges of immorality require us to show that the act is objectively wrong, and merely objecting to a choice like choosing to gamble is in itself meritless. Fortunately we are not bound by in practice, as this is one wrongly conceived law that can just be completely ignored if we prefer, as so many do.
Future of Gambling in Oklahoma
If you like to gamble at land-based casinos, only Nevada has more places to do it at. Due to Oklahoma having its Indian tribes running them instead of commercial operations mostly focused in one city, the way that Oklahoma’s casinos are located puts them in easy reach of anyone in the state, and even can boast one that is even bigger than anything that they have in Vegas or anywhere else in the world for that matter.
Even though a state may have a lot of Indian casinos, they often require travel to out of the way locations where the Indians live, on small reservations. Oklahoma’s Indian tribes literally own half of the area of Oklahoma, allowing them to build far more casinos than if they only held a very small percentage of a state’s area as is typical in other states.
The state of Oklahoma would prefer that they have none, and even opposed the renewal of their compacts in 2020, where the tribes had to fight further legal battles beyond the original ones 15 years prior when the original compacts were reached. The government here is not itching to expand this market by offering non-native casinos anytime soon, and we may even wonder if any expansion is needed given how many casinos the state has now.
Indian gaming is still growing in Oklahoma 15 years into these Class III compacts, with several new casinos being planned. They can build all the casinos they want, and in spite of the state being opposed to casino gambling, the state of Oklahoma has no real way of stopping this expansion.
Ironically, the 2020 negotiations ended up seeing the governor agree to not only allowing the tribes to offer land-based sports betting, he was also ready to relent on the type of table games that these casinos have been limited to thus far, being now willing to let them offer wheel and dice games in addition to the card games that they now offer. The courts in Oklahoma struck down these provisions, although given that the governor at least is fine with this, it may only be a matter of time before we see these new things rolled out.
The prospects of the state of Oklahoma regulating online gambling isn’t even on the horizon right now, although a lot of people don’t realize that there isn’t much difference between your state licensing and regulating it and it being licensed and regulated elsewhere. It sure used to be, as you would have to physically travel elsewhere to gamble if it wasn’t available where you live, but the internet has changed everything,
Now, you can “travel” anywhere in the world you want to at the speed of light, to places where your favorite real money online gambling games are licensed and operate in full compliance with the law and are also regulated the same way that a site regulated by Oklahoma would be. The only real difference is that you can’t use normal deposit methods such as credit cards or internet wallets, but they do have several good options, including just sending money back and forth with a cybercurrency such as Bitcoin, which makes things very easy.
For those players from Oklahoma who do not want to wait for years for their state to finally decide to get involved in real money online gambling, there are some high quality opportunities out there for those who know where to look. We’ve got some great picks for you.
Oklahoma Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
When did gambling first come to Oklahoma?
Oklahoma has been inhabited by Indians for thousands of years, and it wasn’t until settlers came to the area that gambling was first introduced in the area we now call Oklahoma. It was called Indian Territory back then, and was not a place that anyone less than the hardiest settlers would want to move to. These hardy settlers did love to gamble, and the first century of Oklahoma’s history was rife with saloon gambling.
When did gambling become against the law in Oklahoma?
Once Oklahoma became a state, in 1890, they got to pass their own laws, and one of the first laws the new state passed was one that made all forms of gambling illegal, with no exceptions. This was also a time of great expansion for the state, where they allowed new settlers their choice of parcels of land for free. The settlement here catered more to regular folks than adventurers, and the majority of them took a dim view toward gambling.
Why is gambling seen as undesirable by so many Oklahomans?
There is a view held by many that pleasure is some sort of sin, and certain types of pleasures are sinful enough that they feel we should use the power of the law to enforce these religious beliefs, for their own good presumably, to spare them from whatever is believed will happen to them aside from the enjoyment the gambling provides. This view has lessened over the years in Oklahoma but still serves as a real impediment to progress.
Why is it such a bad idea to leave the power of lawmaking to the majority?
When lawmakers are only subject to the will of the majority, the only condition needed is that a law be popular. It is popular in Oklahoma that gambling be against the law other than their few exceptions. We end up with laws that make gambling illegal based upon people’s preferences for it, not their own but their preferences for us. Those who believe might alone does not mean right have good reasons to question such laws when they infringe upon our liberty.
What does current Oklahoma law say about gambling?
Aside from where permitted by law, it is illegal to bet on or play a game for money. Oklahoma also bans gambling using any device whatsoever. Betting is defined as wagering on a game of chance. Casino and poker games fall well within this net, and both are certainly playing games for money, which is all they need to be against Oklahoma law. It isn’t quite so clear whether sports betting is illegal as well, but it’s hard not to see it as playing a game.
What legal forms of real money gambling does Oklahoma have?
Oklahoma has 3 pari-mutuel racetracks where you can bet on the horses and even play slots. Oklahoma also allows charitable bingo and raffles, although social gambling of any type is not allowed. Oklahoma also has a lottery, and that is the extent of the gambling they permit. It’s 33 Indian tribes do host a total of 143 casinos on tribal land, and tribal land in Oklahoma is half of the state.
Is sports betting coming to Oklahoma anytime soon?
It might be surprising that, given about half of the states either have sports betting already or are getting ready to have it, Oklahoma is among the states that have approved it. The governor of the state agreed to allow the state’s Indian tribes to start offering it, but the pushback against this was strong enough to have the decision overturned by a court. The battle continues though, and this might come to the state soon if the governor wins.
Is it legal to gamble online in Oklahoma?
The only thing that you could gamble at in Oklahoma is gambling that the state has given the thumbs up to. If you can’t play a game for money, it’s not hard to see that any form of gambling could be considered to be playing a game. When we gamble for real money online, we are playing a game for money. Casino and poker definitely are, and we would have to see sports betting not involving playing a game for money for it to be legal.
Does it even matter whether real money online gambling is legal or not?
To imagine the difference between land-based and online gambling as far as the law goes, we can compare playing at a land-based casino and an online one. The land-based gambling occurs in Oklahoma. Online gambling does not occur in Oklahoma but elsewhere, the same way as gambling in Vegas is not gambling in Oklahoma. The state may believe otherwise, but since there’s no way to know where you go online, the law becomes moot.
Are there good real money online gambling sites that accept players from Oklahoma?
There are plenty of real money gambling sites regulated elsewhere that accept Oklahomans, but just because they will take you does not mean that this is a place that you should be playing at. Online gambling sites differ in quality, and this is a territory that you really need a guide to travel in, just like the original settlers of Oklahoma benefited from when entering the new territory. We will be your expert guide.