Oklahoma senate passes bill to expand gambling laws

Published: Mar. 16, 2018 at 4:34 PM CDT
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Casinos in Oklahoma may soon be able to use balls and dice for games after a bill passed through the Senate this week. Right now, games like roulette and craps are played with cards.

Lawmakers said the change would bring in tens of millions of dollars, but others think the revenue is not worth the risk.

"One thing I noticed, it is very addictive," Joe Duru said.

Joe Duru came to Choctaw Casino for spring break with his kids.

"Each night I was hoping to hit the jackpot," Duru said.

But he ended up spending more than he gambled for.

"I know I spent a lot but I didn't win anything, it is very, very, very addictive," Duru said.

Local Licensed Professional Counselor Sequoia Brown said about two in 40 patients come in with a gambling addiction. She said the problem is most are not aware they have an addiction until it's too late.

Duru said he's worried Senate Bill 1195, would fuel more gambling addictions. But Sen. Greg McCortney from Ada, who wrote the bill, said this would not change what games are already played, just how they are played.

"This is one of the top ways we fund education, is through our tribal gaming," Sen. McCortney said.

But how will it bring in revenue?

"A large portion of it will be out of state people who come into Oklahoma because they enjoy playing these games, but currently they're going to other states to play them," McCortney said.

Sen. McCortney said in the first year, this bill is expected to bring in $22 million from fees the tribes pay the state, $16 million would go to education.

"We could hire new 300 teachers next year with the money off of games we are already playing in Oklahoma," McCortney said.

But that doesn't change Duru's mind.

"I am totally against it, I am not for it, I think there would be a better way to bring in revenue besides gambling," Duru said.

The bill was passed by the Senate, it'll now move on to the House of Representatives.