Oregon Releasing State Lottery App; Sports Betting on the Way

Sunset over the iconic Portland, Oregon Old Town sign

Oregon has launched its new mobile lottery app and is also planning to release a sports betting offering through the app in the near future.

History of Oregon gambling

Oregon is a popular place for horse racing. Its main racetrack, Portland Meadows, opened in 1946 and offers a full season of racing.

Betting on horse races is allowed at 11 locations in Oregon. A few other racetracks in the state regularly hold three- and four-day meetings. There was greyhound racing in the state between 1933 and 2004 but the last track, Multnomah Greyhound Park, closed due to declining attendance.

There are ten betting hubs in the state, which in 1997 became one of the first states to legalize these off-site betting areas. Charitable casino nights and similar events have been allowed since 1971, and Texas Hold ‘Em nights for charitable causes were legalized in 1995. Social gaming is permitted but it is governed by individual counties and cities.

The state lottery began in 1984 after a public vote that was 66% in favor. One of the main catalysts for this was the vast number of residents going across the border to take part in Washington state’s lottery.

A form of sports betting was formerly allowed in the state as part of the state lottery. Called Sports Action, it began in 1989 and allowed participants to bet on NFL games.

While Sports Action was banned in 1992 under the federal law that prohibited sports betting, a grandfather clause allowed the state could continue to offer it to residents. It was discontinued in 2007.

There have been widespread issues with illegal video poker in the state, particularly in restaurants and bars. In 1989, it was estimated that these machines had revenues of almost $100m (£76m) annually.

By 1992, the lottery started offering a legal version of these poker games, and slots were introduced in 2005. This is now a significant source of revenue for the state. More than 13,000 terminals bring in nearly $800m (£607m) each year.

There are eight Native American casinos in Oregon. Over the years, various parties have attempted to get commercial casinos legalized, but these attempts have repeatedly been rejected.

New state lottery app

The state lottery has released its mobile app, and there are plans to have a sports betting feature as part of this offering in the near future. Using the app, lottery players can check what the winning numbers were for a given drawing, and many other features will be implemented shortly.

It is currently available only for Apple App Store users, but Android and Google versions are expected to be released by November.

Many people may wonder a sports betting aspect could be included in this app without any form of relevant legislation on the matter. It’s because Oregon, Nevada, Montana, and Delaware are covered by a grandfather rule, meaning that despite the federal ban on sports betting (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) they could still offer forms of sports betting.

This ban, of course, ended in May 2018 following a Supreme Court decision. That led numerous states to legalize sports betting and roll out their sportsbooks subsequently. State officials believe that they may be able to expand upon the current sports betting limits without any form of legislation as a result of the conclusion of the federal ban.

Among the states covered by the grandfather rule, only Nevada offered full-fledged sports betting. The other states only had niche types of sports betting available, such as Sports Action in Oregon and parlay bets in Delaware.

Essentially, the grandfather rule allowed these states to continue operating the sports betting-related offerings that they had been providing for decades, but they could not expand upon these offerings.

Oregon has no tax structure in place for sports betting or even for mobile gambling, which means that some sort of framework will likely have to be set up.

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