Controversial Oregon Sports Betting to Kick Off by End of Month

  • The Chinook Woods tribal casino is set to open its sportsbook on August 27
  • The Oregon Lottery will launch its own offering a few weeks later
  • Oregon is the second state to have a tribal casino sportsbook set up without formal legislation
Oregon’s first sportsbook is set to open in a tribal casino in Lincoln City on August 27. [Image:]

Casino to launch first, Oregon Lottery to follow

With college and professional football proving highly profitable for sports betting operations, Oregon is set to have legal sportsbooks open in time for the start of the 2019 NFL season.

the first sportsbook on the west coast of the United States 

The first party to launch sports betting in the state will be the Chinook Winds Casino Resort on August 27, making it the first sportsbook on the west coast of the United States. The announcement from the Native American casino in Lincoln City was made on August 19.

The Oregon Lottery is also developing its own sportsbook, but it will be another few weeks before this is ready. Its offering will be a lot more extensive than that of the Chinook Winds.

There will only be in-person sports bets at the tribal casino, while the Oregon Lottery will have a mobile app.

Reasons for tribal casino sportsbook

There are two legal reasons why the tribal casino in Oregon can now open their sportsbook.

Oregon was part of a group of four states that had special exemptions to the previous federal ban on sports betting. When the federal ban came into force, it could still offer the Sports Action sports betting parlay game. While this offering came to an end in 2007, the legislature saw such exemption as an opportunity to push for open sports betting. 

Delaware was in a similar position in this regard, and they have already been accepting sports bets since June 2018. Montana and Nevada were the two other states that had exemptions to the federal ban.

Chinook Woods is also entitled to have a sportsbook as per state law. According to the compact between the state and its tribes, tribal gambling facilities can offer the same types of gambling products as the Oregon Lottery. The fact that the latter is set to launch its own sportsbook shortly entitles the tribes to do the same. 

the second state to have a tribal casino accepting sports bets without the enactment of formal legislation

Once the sportsbook is set in motion as planned, it will make Oregon the second state in the country to have a tribal casino accepting sports bets without the enactment of formal legislation. The Santana Ana Star tribal gambling facility in New Mexico began accepting sports bets in October 2018. Numerous other tribes have followed suit. 

Currently, there are eight other tribal facilities in Oregon that may also look to operate a sportsbook in the future. 

Controversy behind Oregon’s sports betting

It was in March 2019 that the Oregon Lottery Commission spoke about a plan to relaunch sports betting in the state. After conducting a market survey to see what sort of operator would fit its needs, it developed a shortlist which included the likes of Playtech and SG Digital. 

Ultimately, the commission opted for SBTech, who brought with them a “turn-key, sports-betting platform and sportsbook for digital and on-property wagering.”

The European company, whose main focus is sports betting, has operations in five casinos across the United States. Among these are the Golden Nugget Casino and the Resorts Atlantic City Casino in New Jersey.

There has been some controversy about the partnership. Scientific Gaming, one of the candidates that did not make the cut, lodged a formal complaint about the selection of SBTech. It claimed SBTech is operating in countries such as Iran and Turkey, where sports betting is not currently legal. 

Estimated revenue figures

According to the contract between SBTech and the Oregon Lottery, the operator will be paid about $26.8m in the first three years of legal sports betting. The Lottery estimates revenues of $332m in the first year of operation, rising to $722m by year three.

The payments to SBTech will not come from taxpayers. Instead, they will be drawn directly from gaming revenues. 

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