Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States. It borders Texas to the west and south, Kansas to the north, Missouri to the northeast, New Mexico to the west, and Colorado to the northwest.
Oklahoma joined the Union in November 1907, becoming the 46th state to do so. Its capital and largest city are Oklahoma City and it serves as both the seat of government and hub of economic activity in the state.
Talking demographics, the state has a population of around 4 million inhabitants, making it the 28th most populous US state. A median household income (according to the latest statistical findings) of $50,000 places it 44th amongst other US states.
The historical influence of the native American Indians in Oklahoma must be mentioned when talking about gambling in the state. Firstly, the state name itself is derived from the Choctaw words “Okla” and “Humma” – meaning “red people”. In 1907, when the state was to join the Union, its Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the state that we know it as today.
Economically, Oklahoma relies on oil, agricultural produce, and natural gas for most of its income. This means that industries like energy, biotechnology, and defense/mass aviation are crucial to its economy and the livelihoods of most residents. Alongside Oklahoma City, Tulsa also stands as another crucial city, with more than 66% of Oklahomans living in the metropolitan boundaries of these two cities.
Geographically, Oklahoma has nestled mountain ranges, prairie, and forests. It sits in the United States’ Cross Timbers, Great Plains, and Interior Highland regions. Its situation in the country also made the state relevant to the three major cultures, serving as a haven for Southern settlers, a route for cattle drives in the 17th and 18th centuries, and of course, a designated territory for indigenous Native Americans.
Gambling and Poker in Oklahoma’s Early Days
Just like any of its peers in the region, Oklahoma started out with strict gaming and gambling laws – many of which are still in place even today.
In the early 1800s, gambling was first introduced into modern-day Oklahoma. At the time, western settlers brought games like poker to the then-Native Indian colony. As other natives were gradually forced into Oklahoma from their eastern settlements, this increased their participation, along with the settler’s participation, in gambling.
Following the unification of the constituent American states into one country, gambling in Oklahoma went unhindered for more than a century – but many gambling events ended in bloody gunfights and other violent outbursts. In 1916, the state’s government cited this violence as its main reason for issuing a blanket ban on all gambling activities in the state.
Fast-forward about 65 years later, and in 1982 and the state began to take steps towards gradually reversing its resolute stance on gambling. Horseracing was the first activity to be approved by the state legislature. This included off-site betting as well as live betting on its three major racetracks.
Tribal Gambling in Oklahoma and the Current State of Poker
First, it is important to note that Oklahoma doesn’t have any commercial casinos, only tribal ones. In 2004, the Sooner state approved the establishment of tribal casinos in the state and, for the most part, gave these tribes sole custodianship over legal gambling. This means that the only legal form of casino gambling in Oklahoma happens at its numerous tribal casinos.
Not only is poker legal and unrestricted in these tribal casinos, Oklahoma has one of the biggest and best poker scenes in its region. Real-cash poker rooms in the state are some of the finest in the country, boasting high-value games in 5-star environments. In fact, gambling now brings in over $2.5 billion in annual revenue to the state.
A big catch with these tribal casinos is that according to state law, these casinos are not allowed to operate a house-banked format with the table games. However, as an easy fix, the casinos take a fee before any game to meet the requirement.
In total, Oklahoma has 126 registered casinos dispersed throughout the state, from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. These casinos offer the full spectrum of table games, including roulette, poker, Texas hold’em, and craps. The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, alongside two other state-run offices, regulate gambling activities in the state.
Regarding the minimum gambling age in Oklahoma, some reservations enforce an over-21 limit, while others allow bettors over 18 to participate. If you are looking to visit the state, its two largest casinos are the Winstar World Casino (with 96 table games) and the Riverwind Casino.
Online Poker in Oklahoma
The laws that govern gambling in Oklahoma, compared to other states, are relatively recent. Nevertheless, they still make little mention of online gambling in any concise manner. They mention what devices constitute “illegal gambling devices”, but the vague language and its irrelevance to modern technologies make it such that prosecuting online gamblers is extremely difficult.
Very few cases have ever been brought against online gamblers in the state and even when these cases arose, they usually meshed with other, much more grievous, offenses.
Many well-known online betting platforms such as True Poker, Juicy Stakes, Americas Cardroom, and BlackChip Poker offer class-leading online poker services to people living in Oklahoma. Bovada and BetOnline are also good bets. Since most of these sites are off-shore or out-of-state, you do not have to worry about law enforcement crackdowns of any kind.