Oregon Governor Ready To Ditch Lottery Sports Betting Model

Written By Adam Candee on January 12, 2021
Oregon sports betting

A new bill backed by Gov. Kate Brown would shift Oregon sports betting from a single state-sponsored app to a competitive marketplace.

In true Portlandia fashion, though, the oddly worded six-page bill contains a few quirks. It includes a vague fee structure but no tax rate, and appears deferential to leagues and colleges on multiple issues.

HB 2127 received its first reading Monday in the Oregon House and has not yet been referred to committee. If passed, the bill would represent a major change in the administration of OR sports betting.

What’s in the Oregon sports betting bill?

Brown requested the bill on behalf of the Oregon Racing Commission, which would oversee Oregon sports betting under the legislation. It would expand options for bettors by allowing any number of operators to apply to offer sports betting apps.

How much money those sportsbooks would owe to the state remains a mystery, as the bill does not list a tax rate. It places rule-making authority with the commission, which would take control of OR sports betting from the Oregon Lottery.

In fact, the nebulous wording about revenue does not match that of any other US sports betting bill:

An additional fee not to exceed 10 percent of gross sports wagering receipts shall be assessed upon each sports wagering licensee. Seventy-five percent of the additional fee assessed under this paragraph shall be paid to the General Fund in the State Treasury to the credit of the Oregon Racing Commission Account. The remaining 25 percent of the additional fee assessed under this paragraph shall be allocated by the commission to support the racing industry.

Other details of the draft include:

  • Annual license fee not to exceed $50,000
  • Mandated use of official league data to grade in-play wagers
  • Repeal of Oregon’s prohibition on college sports betting
  • Allowing leagues and colleges to request bans on a range of bet types

Not many choices for Oregonians today

Betting on sports in Oregon currently exists in just two forms. Bettors can use the state lottery’s Scoreboard mobile app or bet in person at some tribal casinos.

The Oregon Lottery launched Scoreboard in October 2019, partnering with SBTech to oversee its operation. That contract proved far better to SBTech than to the state.

In the first six months of mobile wagering in Oregon, the state lost almost $2 million despite net revenue of nearly $6 million. Direct payments to SBTech and other vendors in that time totaled least $2.9 million, according to information obtained by Legal Sports Report and The Oregonian in March 2020.

To date, Oregon bettors put up more than $263 million in wagers resulting in less than $23 million in sports betting revenue as of last month. Those figures rank near the bottom of states with legal sports betting, a consistent trend among single-operator markets.

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Adam Candee

Adam Candee is the managing editor of Legal Sports Report. He covers sports business and news from Las Vegas, where he works as a sports radio host for ESPN, BetQL, and VSiN. Adam is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, Arizona Daily Sun, and KLAS-TV. He can be reached at [email protected]

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