New Oregon Sports Betting Bill is Step in Right Direction

New Oregon Sports Betting Bill is Step in Right Direction
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Change could be coming to Oregon sports betting — in a good way.

House Bill 2127 was filed this week at the request of Gov. Kate Brown and would make the Oregon Racing Commission (ORC) the new regulator of sports betting, increase the number of operators and allow for mobile and retail sports betting in Oregon.

Currently, Oregon’s sports betting industry is only through the Lottery’s ScoreBoard mobile application and on-location only at two tribal casinos. The proposed new bill does not necessarily eliminate the ScoreBoard app, but it does indicate the switch in regulators.

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States with lottery-run sports betting operations and just one option for consumers, like Oregon, have had issues with poor odds and technical difficulties. The Oregon Lottery has a partnership with SBTech.

And a non-competitive market almost always generates less total handle than a competitive one and that means less revenue for the state.

The proposed legislation is a step in the right direction for Oregon. It would broaden and make for a more competitive sports betting market with no limit on the number of operators that could be licensed, and it would add collegiate sports to the mix. Currently, ScoreBoard offers only professional sports for wagering. College sports wagers can only be placed in person at tribal casinos in Oregon.

The legislation calls for a fee not to exceed 10% (essentially the tax rate), and each new license would cost $50,000. One stipulation in the new bill that will give operators pause is a requirement to use official league data.

It also calls for the legal betting age to go from 21 and older to 18 and older.

Oregon’s new legislative session begins Jan. 19 and runs through June 30.

At a Loss in First Fiscal Year

The Oregon Lottery saw a net loss of more than $5 million from its sports betting operation in its first fiscal year; Oregon is believed to be the first state to lose money on sports betting in its first year.

Oregon Lottery Director Barry Pack in February 2020 told Oregon Lottery Commissioners the Scoreboard would suffer a net loss of $5.3 million during Fiscal Year 2020, which began July 1, 2019, and ended June 30, 2020. It has seen better results since with monthly handle records in the latter part of the year.

In addition to Oregon, Montana and the Washington, D.C., markets have been plagued by issues with its lottery-run systems. Those two are powered by Intralot.

Oregon Sports Betting Numbers

The amount wagered in Oregon in December increased by 7.8% after a drop in November, but revenue fell by 25.9% from its record last month.

The December total handle and revenue were the second-highest figures for a month since Oregon launched sports betting in October 2019.

The December total sports betting handle was $26.99 million, nearly $2 million more than November, according to figures from the Oregon Lottery. Revenue fell to $3.05 million in December from its record of just over $4.1 million in November.

For 2020, the first full year of Oregon sports betting, the handle totaled $218.2 million and the total revenue was $20.1 million. The hold was 9.2%.