Oregon sports betting regulators could become the latest to add virtual sports to their menu of available betting options, following a handful of other states seeking a way to boost wagering options during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Oregon Lottery late last week sent out a “temporary administrative order.”
The Lottery currently offers digital sports betting on pro sports only via its Scoreboard platform. It is taking public comment through June 10 on the possibility of adding virtual sports.
“The availability of such games could keep Scoreboard players engaged and entertained during the public health emergency and help the Lottery raise revenue for public programs,” reads the notice.
Virtual sports defined, revenue needed
In the notice, the Lottery argues that failing to add virtual sports to the platform’s available betting options will “result in serious prejudice to Scoreboard players and the public programs that rely on the Lottery revenue.” The Lottery seeks to bypass the typical rule-making process and approve virtual sports betting more quickly. The next Lottery Commission meeting is set for June 26.
The proposed rule changes define virtual sports as follows:
A virtual sporting event means a computer simulation of a real-world sporting event that:
(A) Uses motion graphics, sounds and play-by-play to simulate the overall experience of a real-world sporting event;
(B) Assigns random probabilities to each participant in the virtual sporting event;
(C) Uses a pseudo random number generator to determine winners; and
(D) Has been tested and certified by a reputable certification authority.
Since its fall 2019 launch, Oregon’s Scoreboard app has not shown a profit. Through its first nine months, the app lost $5.3 million, and like many other states, Oregon as a whole is seeing a dip in tax revenue amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“We started this whole process acknowledging that launching a new sales channel and a new product would take time to get to profitability,” Lottery Director Barry Pack told commissioners at a meeting earlier this year. “So, there is no big surprise here that we aren’t at profitability at four months.”
Scoreboard app shut down due to cyberattack
In addition, the Scoreboard app was shut down for a few days in April after a cyberattack on vendor SBTech.
I consider this to be a public service announcement:
Scoreboard is Back Up
We apologize for the delay in service and thank you for your patience. Scoreboard is once again live and you are able to log back into your account.
Oregon Lottery Scoreboard pic.twitter.com/zAfUiqKVfk
— Benny Hwy 20-Stan H. (@StanHagen1) April 3, 2020
Virtual sports have received more attention from sports wagering regulators and operators, in light of the months-long suspension of most professional sports leagues due to COVID-19 . Betting on virtual sports is legal in some states, including Nevada and New Jersey.