Senate committee votes down tribal gambling expansion bill in Oklahoma

A measure that would help to fill an estimated $878 million hole in the upcoming fiscal year’s budget was shot down by an Oklahoma Senate budget committee on Friday.

Tribal gaming in Oklahoma would have seen a major expansion had members of the Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget not killed SB 857 in a 22 to 16 vote prior to the weekend, according to the Associated Press.

The first reading took place in the State Legislature on Monday, May 8 as leaders of the Republican legislature unveiled the measure as part of a package to help raise approximately $400 million in revenue to balance the Sooner State’s budget for the fiscal year which begins July 1.

However, Senate Pro Term Mike Shultz is against the expansion and said he does not support laws which would allow full-scale Las Vegas-style gambling in the state. Schultz said that sports betting would be authorized by the bill if Congress lifts a federal ban.

On May 8, budget negotiations in the Legislature, which included House Democrats asking for major tribal gambling expansion in the state, to include roulette and dice games, in exchange for votes on a cigarette tax, derailed.

Dueling press conferences were held by Senate Republicans and House Democrats and each side of the aisle blamed the other for stalling the agreement that would help to close the budget gap in the state.

Super majorities are held by Republicans in both legislative chambers, however not enough in the 101-member House to get the tax increase passed, which would require a three-fourths vote.

House Democratic leader Rep. Scott Inman reportedly said that the cigarette tax was equivalent to putting a Band-Aid on a bullet hole and that revenue has to come from additional sources.

Meanwhile, early in March, Governor Mary Fallin gave the Shawnee Tribe the green light to build it 7BALL s Golden Mesa Casino near Guymon, a city situated in the Oklahoma panhandle some 400 miles from the tribe’s headquarters in Miami, Oklahoma.

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