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Oklahoma has taken a strong stance against gambling - even playing in a home poker game can get you jail time - but they have yet to comment on online poker. While it doesn't seem like a high priority for them, online poker is probably illegal.
As of 2015, online poker in Oklahoma is not clear and players seem to be able to play without any legal hassles. Read on to learn more about legal Oklahoma poker.
Gambling has a long history in Oklahoma. Indians who first inhabited the lands bet on horse races, and cowboys and miners traveling through or settling in the state in the late 1800s began to set up and frequent saloons, where patrons could gambling on roulette or poker. Neither the United States nor Oklahoma itself did much to regulate gambling until the 1900s. Gambling was still running rampant in the early 1920s, especially after that decade's discovery of oil in Oklahoma, but citizens who settled there began to plead with the government to tighten restrictions. Regulations were put into place over the following decades, such as those that now might extend to legal Oklahoma poker sites, and authorities slowly began to enforce those laws.
Q. Why are only two casinos allowed to offer table games like poker?
A. Indian tribes had difficulties in coming to agreements on compacts with the state. When they returned to the negotiating table to ask for more casino gaming options, the state refused with the exception of WinStar World Casino and Choctaw Casino, both operated by the Chicasaw tribe. Online poker in Oklahoma may receive the same reception as expanded gambling did.
Q. How is satellite bingo legal when online poker is not?
A. Bingo has long been regarded as a fun game, not one to be put in the games of chance category. Though it is a complete game of chance, especially in comparison to poker, bingo is established and socially accepted. When the tribes wanted to cooperate with other states, they were allowed to work with other tribes to offer prizes up to $1 million. Meanwhile, Oklahoma poker sites remain unregulated.
Q. Have online poker players been prosecuted under current law?
A. We believe not. It seems that online poker players and gamblers have been left alone by the authorities, possibly because it would be a slippery slope, and many arrests of players and operators would have to be made. With operators located internationally, the state would have problems following through with prosecutions. However, the state could, at any time, choose to go that route and set an example with Oklahoma online poker players.
Q. Have any Oklahoma legislators looked into legalizing online gambling?
A. No. Knowing how conservative the voting public can be, no legislator has yet brought the subject of Oklahoma online poker sites or gambling to the forefront of any discussions.
Q. Will Oklahoma opt out of federal legislation?
A. There is no way to know. Oklahoma voters decidedly do not want to expand gambling in their state, but Indian tribes may want to participate if the Oklahoma online poker excludes other games. In that case, the tribes may pursue the issue, and the state would have more than a few considerations before making a decision.
In 1982, legalization was the word when voters approved pari-mutuel wagering on horse races via the quarter horse tracks in the state. The early 1990s saw the approval for Indian tribes to open casinos in the state, which started as bingo halls but slowly expanded, first to pull tabs, then to slot machines and table games at select casinos, namely Choctaw and WinStar World. The move was a positive one for the tribes and the state, as tourism and revenue rose. Horse tracks were transformed into racinos by allowing more than just racing, and charitable gambling was legalized as well. A lottery brought in more money, and Indian tribes further negotiated to have off-track betting facilities and satellite bingo across several states that operate similar to a poker tournament. Online poker in Oklahoma remains illegal, but a version of online bingo is legal.
Poker is allowed in the casinos throughout the state that offer table games, but social gambling is illegal, no matter the rake in the game. Charitable gambling for Ohio residents does not include poker. The law dictates that any game in which chance plays a major role is a game of chance, not skill, and poker seems to be included in that chance category. Players caught illegally playing poker, presumably online poker in Oklahoma as well, can be charged with misdemeanors, and operators of games are treated more harshly. And the state doesn't hesitate to prosecute, as there were 46 arrests in 2010 on gambling charges, though only some of them were for poker games.
Oklahoma online poker is likely viewed as illegal, based on a law that prohibits the "dissemination of gambling information" by any communications facilities that transmit or receive bets. That is a felony in Oklahoma, though the courts have yet to rule on any cases regarding Internet gambling or challenging the game of chance rule. Contact your legislator by clicking here: Find My Legislature OK.
The two largest casinos in the state are Choctaw and WinStar, both of which are the two that operate as full racetracks and casinos with slot machines and table games. They are popular with poker players around the United States, who travel to those casinos to compete in numerous annual poker tournament series. Online poker in Oklahoma could increase the popularity of those tournaments by a significant amount. Those casinos currently bring more than $18 million annually to the state in tax revenue alone for education programs, and they employ more than 900 people.