Overview: Online Sports Betting in Oregon
Oregon has a lottery-run sports betting industry – only one sportsbook is allowed in the state, and the lottery runs it. The monopoly on sports betting is intended to make more money for the state government. But the odds are so poor and the bonuses so scarce that sports betting revenue is low. In one full fiscal year, Oregon’s sports betting app made $8.6 million. That’s next to nothing for a year of online sports betting.
Having legal sports betting for longer than most states hasn’t been enough. But Oregon Governor Kate Brown wants to modernize Oregon sports betting. At her request, the Oregon legislature filed HB 2127, which would create a free-market sports betting industry. Sportsbooks would be licensed by a Gaming Commission formed by the bill. Then sportsbooks would be free to compete under industry rules. Here’s what some of these changes could mean for Oregon.
Where Online Sports Betting Is Now
Even though Oregon had sports betting before PASPA’s repeal, online sports betting is a recent addition. On October 16, 2019, the Oregon Lottery launched its online sportsbook, Scoreboard. Scoreboard is available in browser and through a mobile app. The pandemic hit Oregon’s new sports betting venture hard. It made 38% less than its projected revenue, which is rough for the state’s only online sportsbook.
Nonetheless, it’s a welcome addition to Oregon’s sports betting industry. Oregon only has one other retail sportsbook. Chinook Winds launched its retail sportsbook in August 2019, two months before Scoreboard. That meant Chinook Winds got to launch in time to take bets on the NFL season and several college sports seasons. (Wagers on whether March Madness would be interrupted by a pandemic were unavailable but would’ve had incredible odds.) Other retail sportsbooks will likely open throughout 2020, too.
Online sports betting is more convenient than driving to a casino. Oregon doesn’t break its sports betting figures down by online and retail wagers. However, online sports betting is more popular in other states than retail. Convenient betting is more accessible to bettors, increasing the number of people who try sports betting. Much of Oregon’s sports betting revenue likely comes from online wagers – especially during the pandemic.
What Oregon’s Sports Betting Bill Could Change
HB 2127 is basically a list of features that Governor Brown would like to see in a final bill. The sports betting bill has many meetings, committees, readings, and votes in its future. HB 2127’s language will become more precise and lengthen the bill. But this early peek at Governor Brown’s wishes is informative.
First, bettors may be able to wager on college sports. College sports wagers are currently off-limits. Some other states ban college sports, but it’s a hit to sportsbook bottom lines. Super Bowl and March Madness wagers are a lucrative back-to-back combination of betting events. It’s an early-year boost that Oregon sportsbooks will be able to take advantage of if college wagers are okayed.
The Betting Age Could Drop From 21 To 18
Oregon’s sports betting app and its casinos only allow bettors who are 21 and older to wager there. Since retail sportsbooks have liquor available, that age restriction makes sense. The app probably matched the casino betting age to avoid controversy.
But Governor Brown’s proposed bill would lower the sports betting gambling age to match the state gambling age. Anyone 18 or older can participate in every other type of gambling – including video gaming terminals (bleh). Lowering the betting age would give bettors 18 or older access to mobile sportsbooks, while retail sportsbooks would likely remain restricted to bettors who can drink.
Lowering the sports betting age likely is likely more about fairness than it is about any financial benefit. Daddy Warbucks isn’t some 19-year-old kid gambling his student aid money on the Oregon Ducks. Large wagers come from professional bettors and wealthy bettors. (There’s some overlap between the two, but they’re not necessarily identical.) This would create legal consistency in Oregon’s gambling industry which would eliminate confusion about bettors’ sportsbook access.
A New 10% Tax Rate
Finally, the Governor’s house bill proposed a 10% additional fee. Despite the debate surrounding the term “additional fee,” it’s probably a proposed tax rate. A “fee” on gross gaming revenue is what every other state with sports betting calls a tax. The bill contains business-friendly terms, including common-sense reasons not to use a mandatory data set for settling certain wagers. In a bill that recognizes nuance in sportsbook business, slapping a new fee on top of some pre-existing fee seems unlikely. Remember, this is an early draft. It’s a wish list, not a law.
75% of that “fee” would go to the state’s General Fund. The other 25% would go to supporting the racing industry. Since the racing industry partners with sportsbooks, this could be an incentive for racetracks to back a new sports betting bill.
Especially a sports betting bill with terms Governor Brown finds favorable.
Oregon Online Sports Betting In A Nutshell
Online sports betting in Oregon is a lottery-run monopoly. However, Governor Brown wants to transition to a free-market model. That would ideally lead to:
- Better sportsbook odds
- Enticing welcome bonuses
- Increased sportsbook revenue
- Higher state tax revenue
The bill would expand sports betting in several areas, but one thing is clear. Governor Brown wants a modern–and profitable–sports betting industry. Any Oregon bettors would do well to brush up on sports betting basics before the industry revamps itself. That’ll give them the tools to dive into a sports betting industry built for them – not just the state.