State Capitol

Final budget cuts for Fiscal Year 2018 were approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma House of Representatives committee approved a bill late Monday that legalizes some forms of sports betting at tribal casinos.

House Bill 3375, by Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, is an Indian gaming bill that would allow forms of “dice and ball” games — craps and roulette — and pooled sports betting.

In return, the state would get 10 percent of the games’ proceeds.

A similar bill was part of the failed “Step Up Oklahoma” proposal but did not include the sports gaming provision.

It’s unclear exactly how the games would operate. Traditionally, “banked” games such as craps, roulette, blackjack and sports betting are played against the house.

In this case, however, the games must be “pooled.” Bettors would be playing against each other for a pot, like in poker or an office pool.

Coming up near the end of a 2½-hour committee meeting, HB 3375 received little comment before passing the Appropriations and Budget Committee on a 17-8 vote.

“Do you think gambling is good for the people of Oklahoma?” asked Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell.

“That is a philosophical issue but nothing in this bill deals with whether it is good or bad,” Wallace said.

The changes would initially bring in $28 million a year, according to a House staff analysis, with 88 percent of that going to the Education Reform Revolving Fund, also known as the 1017 Fund.

HB 3375 can now be heard by the full House.

Also Monday:

• Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, was brought in to help break a tie in favor of HB 3440, by Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola, also in the Appropriations and Budget Committee.

The bill seeks to force the Commissioners of the Land Office to distribute a greater share of the annual net increases reflected on the trust’s balance sheet, even if it means selling assets to realize those gains.

Specifically, Gann wants the additional funds to be used for annual stipends for teachers.

Gann is among a cadre of Republicans who oppose new revenue measures and insist the money to pay teachers more can be found in state government’s nooks and crannies, including the CLO.

The CLO manages real estate, minerals and securities derived from federal school land grants and a federal endowment at statehood. Last year it provided $103 million to common education and $34 million to higher education from the proceeds of those assets, which are valued at more than $2.4 billion.

• The Transportation Committee narrowly approved HB 2530, by Rep. Tess Teague, R-Choctaw, requiring a state audit of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority every four years.

• Several bills of note were defeated in committee.

HB 3291, by Rep. John Enns, R-Enid, would have limited local superintendents’ salaries to the state superintendent’s — about $125,000 a year — unless the teachers in a district voted otherwise.

HB 3533, by Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid, would have required school districts to spend at least 60 percent of their total budget on instruction. Similar bills have failed in the past because of disagreements about definitions of instruction expense.

HB 3537, also by Caldwell, R-Enid, sought to expand a tax credit of up to 75 percent for donations to a scholarship fund for private school students. Under the terms of the program, donors receive as much as 75 cents back in tax credits for every dollar donated.

Opponents argued that the program amounts to state subsidy, and comes at a time lawmakers are trying to reduce tax credits.

HB 3020, by Rep. George Faught, targeted teachers’ unions by prohibiting school districts from leasing space to them. The measure was sought by a rival to the Oklahoma Education Association, the Professional Oklahoma Educators — neither of which are unions because they do not collectively bargain on behalf of their members.

Randy Krehbiel


Twitter: @rkrehbiel

Randy has been with the Tulsa World since 1979. He is a native of Hinton, Okla., and graduate of Oklahoma State University. Krehbiel primarily covers government and politics. Phone: 918-581-8365