The pace of regulated sports betting expansion in the United States is picking up, after Oregon became the 11th state outside of Nevada to accept a legal single-game wager.
On August 27, the Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City officially opened its newly built Sports Betting Lounge to the public. Owned and operated by the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon, Chinook Winds Casino invited former Dallas Cowboys defensive standout Ed “Too Tall” Jones to place the ceremonial first bet.
As expected, Jones – who helped lead the Dallas defense to a stifling 27-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII – put his $5 flier down on the Cowboys to win it all next February. His bet marked the first legal sports related wager booked in Oregon since the state lottery’s NFL parlay card game Sports Action ended in 2007 after 18 years serving local punters.
Under the now defunct Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, Oregon was one of only three states – along with Delaware and Montana – which were “grandfathered” in and partially exempted from the federal ban on sports betting. The PASPA made Nevada the only state in the union permitted to offer traditional single-game sports betting, but a U.S. Supreme Court decision issued in May of 2018 repealed the ban as unconstitutional.
Since then, the number of states to take advantage of the ruling by regulating sports betting has grown at an increasingly rapid pace. Rhode Island capped off 2018 last November, and after a lengthy gap before Arkansas joined the list this July, three states have done so over the last two months alone. Iowa took it to double digits only two weeks ago on August 15, while Indiana is poised to make it an even dozen on September 1.
The Sports Wagering Lounge at Chinook Winds Casino opened just in time for the start of both college and professional football’s regular seasons.
The state lottery won’t make that deadline to take advantage of the most lucrative sportsbook vertical, but it plans to roll out an online / mobile sports betting app within a few weeks.
As the first bookmaker to market in Oregon, Chinook Winds director of casino operations Will Robertson was tasked with bringing his venue’s staff up to speed. As he told the Lincoln City News Guard, Robertson is encouraged by the progress he’s seen, both from previous employees and the five new hires needed to launch the Sports Wagering Lounge:
“The hardest part of getting this up and running has been educating ourselves and with any new gaming introduction we’re going to have those hurdles.
But I can’t say enough about everyone who’s helped get us off the ground.”
The property has been planning its sports betting launch for more than a year, per Robertson, and he hopes other casinos in the state are willing to learn from Chinook Winds’ example:
“I would have to imagine that there’s a lot of casinos in Oregon that will be looking to add this and us being open now, we’ll help out if we can.
They can look at our groundwork and kind of adjust as they see necessary, and at the end of the day I anticipate several other tribes to jump on board and have the offering as well.”
Asked about his prediction for handle and revenue numbers, Robertson was reticent in offering any concrete estimates:
“We don’t have any solid numbers and everybody we’ve talked to in the industry about it says your guess is as good as ours.
I can say it is going to help the property in ways such as more food and beverage sales, more table games, more slots, more hotel guests, just more trips and more visitors walking through the door.
All that leads back to the community, more people coming into the community spending dollars that were getting spent elsewhere.”
A thousand of those dollars have already been spent by Clarence Lindblad, a 73-year old lifelong local and sports betting enthusiast who goes by the moniker “Mr. Lucky.”
He told the News Guard that his first legal wager in the state was an even $1,000 on the Pittsburgh Steelers on the odds to win the AFC North division title:
“I’ve been waiting 50 years for this. I would’ve never thought they’d legalize marijuana in Oregon before they legalized sports wagering.
I’ll be making the trip down here every week this year.”