Featured in this article:
  • Oregon will undertake its first gambling study since the 90s.
  • Joint committee of lawmakers will study various possible reforms.
  • Expanded sports betting, legalizing historical horse racing machines, and addressing problem gambling amongst the study topics.

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Lawmakers will study whether to allow betting on in-state college games, like Oregon vs. Oregon State. (AP Photo/Andy Nelson)

Lawmakers confirmed a comprehensive Oregon gambling reform study will be carried out by an eight-member joint-committee. The committee’s formation comes after repeated requests from Tribal gaming interests in the state.

Oregon last carried out a gambling study in the mid-90s. The gambling scene has changed dramatically since then, especially with the advent of iGaming options. Now, lawmakers will try and understand how to best modernize Oregon’s gambling landscape.

Oregon Gambling Includes Sports Betting

Though Oregon has never been viewed as a gambling leader, the state launched a form of sports betting in 1989. The “Sports Action” parlay cards were a feature that allowed some wagering on NFL games until lawmakers outlined the practice in 2007.

Oregon Lottery Scoreboard Sports Betting App

An example of Oregon’s mobile sportsbook when it launched, before partnering with DraftKings.

However, once the Supreme Court allowed states to regulate sports betting, it did not take long for Oregon to get in on the action. The Beaver State was the 11th in the country to open its doors to the regulated wagering industry. Still, Oregon only allowed one mobile sportsbook to operate in conjunction with the state Lottery.

Recently, Oregon updated its lone betting option, partnering with industry behemoth DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG) to run the mobile sportsbook platform. But there is still only one option for bettors in the state. As part of Oregon’s gambling study, lawmakers will investigate whether they should open competition.

Additionally, the committee will decide whether to allow wagering on in-state college athletics. The state lottery was prepared to open up betting on Oregon and Oregon State games, but the governor asked that they hold off on the changes. Now, the study will provide expert guidance on how to proceed.

Historical Horse Racing Machines a Contentious Issue in Oregon

In Oregon, the state constitution bans any casinos from operating on non-Native land. Despite this, the state’s only pari-mutuel horse racing track was ready to roll-out historical horse racing machines (HHR).

Grants Pass Downs in southern Oregon planned to install 225 HHRs before the state’s Department of Justice shut down the expansion earlier this year. Oregon’s nine federally recognized Native American Tribes oppose allowing HHRs. Whether HHRs, which mimic slot machines but are based on actual past horse races violate the state’s constitution will be part of the Oregon gambling study. If allowed, Grants Pass Downs may not be the only location to take advantage of the reform and install HHRs.

Other Oregon Gambling Reform Study Priorities

Since the state has not undertaken a comprehensive gambling study since 1996, the joint committee has numerous tasks. One area the lawmakers plan to prioritize is how Oregon should reduce problem gaming.

When the last study was completed, gambling required going to the casino or the track. Now, all adult Oregonians can wager on sports or buy lottery tickets through their phones. As of now, the state lottery contributes a single percent of its annual revenue to problem gambling programs. Whether that amount is sufficient and whether Oregon is funding the correct treatment and prevention measures will be a part of the gambling study.

On top of all these issues, the committee plans to determine whether to allow pari-mutuel betting on greyhound races. Though dog racing has fallen out of favor across the country, lobbyists contend the industry is beneficial for dogs and the economy alike.

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro GambleOnline.co about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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