Oregon Governor Dumps Lottery Sports Betting Plan

Progress towards reformed legalized sports betting in the US state of Oregon could be on the way after the state’s governor ditched previous support for the state-run lottery sports betting model in favor of a competitive marketplace for private operators. 

Governor Kate Brown has signaled support for a new attempt to overhaul sports betting in the northwestern state and is backing a new bill introduced this week. 

The six-page bill has some peculiarities, including a rather vague fee structure that provides no specifics on the tax rate. It also appears to represent a surrender to sports leagues and colleges on a number of issues. 

The bill, which is known as HB 2127 had its first reading in the Oregon House of Representatives on Monday and, yes, yet to move to the next stage of being referred to a committee. But if it passed, it would represent a big change in the state’s approach to the administration of sports betting. 

Tax Rate Mystery

Brown reportedly requested the new bill on behalf of the Oregon Racing Commission, which would be set to oversee the new Oregon sports betting sector under the proposed legislation. The bill would also expand options for sports bettors by allowing for a variety of operators to apply to provide sports betting apps to Oregon residents. 

Yet, there remains some mystery about how much tax revenue the sportsbooks would be expected to pay to the state. Unusually, the bill does not detail a tax rate. Instead, it gives rule-making authority to the commission, which would take over control of sports betting from the Oregon Lottery.

The lack of detail about tax revenue is significantly at odds with all other US sports betting bills. The bill actually states that there should be an additional fee of not more than 10% of gross sports betting receipts for each sports betting licensee. 

The bill proposes that 75% of the additional fee should be paid to the General Fund in the State Treasury to assist the Oregon Racing Commission Account. The remaining 25% of the fee is to be allocated by the commission in order to provide support for the racing industry.

Other aspects included in the bill are a provision for an annual license fee that should not be in excess of $50,000. Also proposed is the mandated use of official league data for in-play betting, along with a repeal of the current ban on college sports betting and the facility for leagues and colleges to request specific bans on a variety of bet types. 

Lack of Choice in Oregon

Currently, there is a distinct lack of choice for sports betting enthusiasts in Oregon. It is possible to bet on sport using the state lottery Scoreboard app or can bet directly at some retail venues based in the state’s tribal casinos. 

Scoreboard was launched by the Oregon Lottery back in October 2019, in a partnership with SBTech, who was given the responsibility to run the operation. But the deal proved to be much more beneficial to SBTech than it was to the state. 

During the six months of legal mobile betting in Oregon, the state itself lost almost $2 million despite net sports betting revenue of nearly $6 million. Direct payments made to SBTech and other associated vendors came to a figure in excess of $2.9 million, according to information obtained by reporters last year. 

As of last month, Oregon bettors had paid over $263 million in wagers, which had resulted in less than $23 million going into the state coffers, one of the poorest performances in the US. 

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