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Oklahoma Senate committee kills budget item that would expand tribal gaming

OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma Senate budget committee has legislation that would expand tribal gambling in Oklahoma. The expansion of gaming at casinos across the state was expected to help fill a nearly $900 million budget hole.

According to the Associated Press, members of the Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget voted 22 to 16 Friday against the measure.

“The proposal allowed the tribal casinos to use dice and a ball in games that they already do, and would have brought in $20 million to the state this year alone without raising a single tax,” said House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, in a statement to NewsChannel 4.

House Republicans and Democrats said both sides worked past midnight Monday morning to hammer out compromises on raising the state’s cigarette tax, capping itemized tax deductions, restoring earned income tax credits, halting refunds for gas and oil production, as well as the change to gambling legislation.

In all, the legislation was expected to raise about $400 million in revenue.

But Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz has said he does not to support an expansion of gambling laws to allow full-blown Las Vegas-style gambling. Schulz says the bill would authorize sports betting if a federal ban is lifted by Congress.

“For me, personally?” said Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus, Monday afternoon. “Yeah, it’s a moral objection.”

Rep. Inman called out Schulz and Senate leadership for stalling a budget package that some Senate Republicans might even be in favor of.

“I hope that we’re not back to square one,” said Inman, D-Del City. “I mean, the fact that Democrats and House Republicans had come to some sort of consensus on significant revenue measures is an enormous step.”