Oklahoma Casinos – Native Tribes Rule

Oklahoma State Seal With a Casino Background

Oklahoma is just 45 minutes of where I sit in my home office as I write this post. Just over the Texas border, with Oklahoma is the world’s largest casino, WinStar.

WinStar is probably the most well-known casino in Oklahoma, which is itself a newcomer to the American casino scene.

But it’s not a a gambling destination to overlook when you’re planning your next casino vacation.

The History of Gambling in Oklahoma

Gambling in Oklahoma has a recent history.

The Sooner State made horse racing legal in 1982. Compared to Nevada, Oklahoma was late to the gambling party. Nevada legalized gambling in 1949.

Oklahoma would wait another 10 years before making it legal to play bingo for money. If your grandma won money playing bingo before 1992 in OK, it was probably under the table.

In 2003, Oklahoma would legalize the lottery. This was in keeping with a nationwide trend of setting up state-run lotteries. People were driving across state lines to play the lottery.

Oklahoma saw this as a lost revenue opportunity and created their own lottery commission. Now, instead of their residents traveling to Texas to buy tickets, they could spend their lottery dollars in their home state.

Here’s a side note:

The Oklahoma lottery largely funds education within the state and the state’s teacher retirement fund. Most states use lottery profits to fund education, wildlife protection, and other public improvements within their state.

Casinos became legal the same year that lotteries became legal. 2004 was a big year for the Sooner State. There are quite a few requirements for casinos in Oklahoma. I will get into that shortly. All casinos in Oklahoma are required to be located and operated by native tribes.

Laws Surrounding Casinos in Oklahoma

Here are the basic gambling/ casino rules for the state of Oklahoma:

What Is the Legal Gambling Age in Oklahoma?

18-21. The age range depends on the casino. Make sure to check the age requirements before visiting any Oklahoma casino.

Can Anyone Open a Casino?

No. The state mandated that the casinos in Oklahoma must be located on native lands and run by native tribes. This mandate is spelled out that native tribes have an exclusivity agreement with the state and pay 4-10% tax for this agreement.

Native tribes were the primary operators of horse tracks and most of the state’s bingo halls. Once the state legalized casinos, the native tribe racetracks and bingo halls converted to casinos.

In the last year, the governor of Oklahoma has challenged the casino laws saying that as of Jan.1st, 2020 casino gambling is illegal. The 3 largest native tribes, Choctaw, Cherokee, and Chickasaw have pushed back on the governor’s stance and asked for clarification.

Pay close attention to this story as it unfolds. This could be a huge shift in native lands casinos in this country. Oklahoma Governor Stitt has filed a lawsuit to halt operation of native casinos in his state.

Is There Anything Else I Need to Know About Oklahoma Gambling Laws?

Yes, there are a few quirks to Oklahoma’s gambling laws.

The first quirky law every casino has in common – there are ante requirements for all casino games. The ante varies depending on the game. Blackjack tables have a 50-cent ante, and craps and roulette tables have a $1.00 ante. It’s weird, but it’s also part of playing table games in the state.

Best Three Casinos to Visit in Oklahoma

This is my list of my favorite casinos and casino resorts to visit in the Sooner State. They are in no particular order. Some of the casinos you’ve heard of and some of the casinos are off the beaten path.

WinStar – Thackerville, OK

Let’s get this one off the table. WinStar is Oklahoma’s, America’s, and the World’s largest casino. WInStar is owned and operated by the Chickasaw Nation.

This truly mega casino opened its doors as the WinStar Casino the same year that Oklahoma legalized gambling in casinos. 2004 was a game changer for the native tribe gambling establishments.

WinStar renamed itself as the WinStar Word Casino and Resort in 2013. This same year it beat out Foxwoods Casino, a native lands casino in CT, as the largest casino in the world.

WInStar boasts 370,00 square feet with a poker room made up of 55 tables, over 8,500 gaming machines, over 100 gambling tables, keno, and a high roller suite.

If you’re looking for entertainment options, WInStar is home to the Global Events Center, a concert venue that has over 3,500 seats. Famous acts make tour stops on a regular basis.

I was able to see one of my favorite TV actors, Jerry Seinfeld, do his standup act there in the summer of 2019.

Exterior of Winstar World Casino and Resort

If you’re a foodie like my husband and I, you’ll be looking for dining options. WinStar World Casino and Resort offers options for all tastes and budget options.

Wanting a classic steak house experience?

Check.

Want a quick bite to soak up last night’s revelries before hitting the casino floor?

Check.

Your kid only eats spaghetti?

They’ve got Italian food too.

Don’t forget that WinStar also had its own PGA designed golf course. If you’re a fan of the Netflix hit documentary, Tiger King, it’s just a short drive to visit Joe Exotic’s former zoo.

WinStar is unique in its size and location. It’s just over an hour drive from the Dalls-Fort Worth Metroplex, one of the largest cities in America. This also makes traveling to the mega casino resort a breeze.

If you’re new to gambling in Oklahoma casinos, then WInStar World Casino and Resort is a great place to start.

Don’t get lost, though.

My son’s college roommate was there for a bachelor party and was lost for four hours. With a dead phone. And a little tipsy.

You’ve been warned.

Choctaw Casino and Resort – Durant, OK

Choctaw Casino and Resort in Durant, OK is the flagship location of the Choctaw Nation’s chain of casinos and resorts. The Durant location is located on 50 acres belonging to the Choctaw Nation.

As required by Oklahoma gaming laws, Choctaw properties are managed and owned by the tribal nation. The profits go to improvement projects for the native nation.

The Durant casino and resort has a 218,884 sq. Foot casino floor. You can play one of the over 4,800 gaming machines, place a bet (with an ante of course) at any of the over 80 table games. Choctaw Durant also offers a horse racing sportsbook.

Exterior of the Choctaw Casino and Resort

There are a variety of dining and entertainment options. The resort features multiple pools with cabanas that can be reserved.

Are you thinking of making it a family trip?

The resort offers bowling, shopping, a movie theater, and an arcade.

The Choctaw Casino and Resort is a great option for families that are looking for a a family getaway with adult gambling and entertainment options.

Just like WinStar, Choctaw Durant is only a 1.5-hour drive from DFW airport.

Artesian Hotel Casino – Sulphur, OK

The high-end experience at Artesian Hotel Casino is a fantastic option for an adult-only weekend getaway. Located in Sulphur, OK, the casino and hotel is owned and operated by the Chickasaw Nation as per Oklahoma gaming laws.

The Artesian is much smaller than the other two casinos resorts on my list. The boutique hotel and casino opened April 2013. The casino floor is 15,000 square feet of gaming featuring high roller rooms, baccarat, blackjack, and poker.

Artesian Hotel Casino is an excellent romantic weekend getaway option. You can book a spa day, like my husband did for our 25th wedding anniversary, at their award-winning spa, the SOLE’SERNITY.

Exterior of the Artesian Hotel Casino

Their dining options are reminiscent of country club offerings with a flushed-out wine list. The three dining establishment offer everything from a gourmet eggs benedict to a house-aged rib eye. My personal favorite drink offering is the Tennessee Fir Mule at the Fountain Club.

The hotel rooms are splendid with décor. The rooms range in size and amenities. They remind me of a less loud version of the W Chicago.

Much like the other two casino resorts on this list, this hotel and casino is a short drive from DFW airport, clocking in at about 2 hours. For me, a spa and gambling getaway is worth the slightly longer drive.

Conclusion

I hope you have better grasp of the casino offering from Oklahoma’s diverse gaming industry. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what Oklahoma’s gambling landscape has to offer.

There are 60 casinos in Oklahoma. All of them are owned and managed by native tribes. The fact that the tribes redistribute the profits to improvements within their communities is a feel-good win for me as well.

I would love to hear your feedback and questions. Leave a comment below.