Oregon may become the second state to add online virtual sports to its catalog of sports betting options.
State gaming regulators have worked overtime to allow betting on fringe sports as major sports have shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But Oregon is the first to consider virtual sports since the sports world stopped turning in mid-March. New Jersey is the only other state to allow online virtual sports betting.
SBTech, which operates the Oregon State Lottery‘s sportsbook app Scoreboard, has agreements with multiple virtual sports providers, including Golden Race, Inspired Entertainment and Leap Gaming.
The Oregon State Lottery Commission introduced the topic at its meeting last week. It could approve the temporary rules at its next meeting on June 26.
Oregon sports betting needs virtuals for engagement
Temporary rules are needed because the months-long process of permanent rulemaking would hurt Scoreboard’s change to engage and entertain players, the order continues.
“The lottery finds that failure to act promptly by immediately amending these rules will result in serious prejudice to Scoreboard players and the public programs that rely on lottery revenue,” it added.
What are virtual sports?
Virtual sports are simulated sports contests that use random number generators to assign odds and determine a winner.
These games span most sports, including basketball, football, soccer, horse racing and car racing.
Virtual sports are popular in other countries but have been slow to catch on in the US. But virtual horse racing hit a big stage earlier this month when Inspired had 1.7 million viewers of the virtual Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown, which aired on NBC.
Scoreboard not off to great start
April was the worst month on record for Oregon sports betting handle. That’s not a huge surprise considering the lack of sports. The market is also still relatively new as it launched midway through October 2019.
Handle was $4.4 million with just $383,000 in revenue. But the Oregon Lottery lost $462,000 on sports betting last month.
That’s not surprising considering the significant costs related to its SBTech contract. Those details weren’t meant to get out, however, and took a court battle initiated by LSR and The Oregonian to unearth them.
The lottery downgraded its expectations for Scoreboard’s fiscal 2020 in February and now expects a net loss of $5.3 million. Initial projections called for a profit of more than $6 million in its first year.