As staff at the Oregon Lottery is busy developing regulations so it can offer sports betting games this fall, down the road in Salem, at least two lawmakers are making moves to ban sports betting. The latest move came Friday when Senator Mark Hass (D-District 14) filed an amendment that would ban sports betting on mobile devices.
That would mean that the lottery, which is planning to offer bettors the chance to pick winners outright and against the spread at both physical locations and via a mobile app, would be limited to offering sports betting at retailers and on kiosks.
Despite the proposals, the Lottery continues to work toward a September launch of its sports betting product.
Lottery aiming September sports betting launch
“The legislature as a whole has essentially earmarked potential sports betting to pay down” the state’s pension deficit, Lottery spokesman Matt Shelby told Sports Handle Monday. “The body has already kind of committed the funds, but there are individual members who are trying to significantly reduce the potential revenue. We continue to have strong support from the governor’s office, so as I sit here today we are moving forward for a September 1 launch.”
— Doug Friedman (@doug70friedman) June 6, 2019
According to Willamette Week, Hass’ amendment is the second — and less prohibitive — sports betting amendment filed during the session. Amendment A to HB 3389, which would provide lottery winners confidentiality, was filed by Senator Chuck Riley (D-District 15).
The Oregon State Lottery Commission may not initiate or operate a lottery game for which tickets or shares may be purchased:
(1) Via the Internet; or
(2) Via a personal computer, mobile device or other personal electronic device.
Haas’ Amendment B is slightly less restrictive when it comes to gaming in general:
SECTION 4. (1) The Oregon State Lottery Commission may not offer a sports betting game unless tickets or shares for the game may be purchased solely via equipment:
(a) That is owned or leased by the Oregon State Lottery; and
(b) The operation of which is subject to and in compliance with the tax imposed under ORS 320.011.
In effect, either amendment would kill the lottery’s hope of going mobile. The overall bill passed the House on April 23 with no mention of sports betting. But on May 9 the Senate Committee on Business and General Government, approved Riley’s amendment.
The Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue, of which Hass is chairman, had a work session on the bill scheduled for Monday afternoon, but it was announced that the bill would not be discussed, which likely means it — and the sports betting amendments — will die before getting to the Senate floor. The state legislature is set to adjourn June 30.
Lottery officials say they’re on pace for a mid-summer rollout of regulations, which will be open for public comment before voting. Shelby said that in order to meet the goal of launching its mobile sports betting app by the start of the NFL season, the Lottery will initially adopt temporary regulations.
“We’re currently right now working through terms and conditions and once we have a complete list, and that for the most part is coming into focus,” Shelby said. “We want to make sure that when the director signs off on the temporary rules, that there is clarity and transparency around that. That notion is that this is a new product line for us, and that will help guide the specificity of our guidelines.”
Oregon was one of four states grandfathered in to allow sports betting under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, though it did not offer sports betting prior to the act being deemed unconstitutional in May 2018. Since then, Lottery staff and officials have been planning to offer sports betting, and could do so without legislative action.
Earlier this year, the Lottery selected SB Tech as its sports betting technology provider and has been moving forward with contract negotiations and regulation development. The plan has been to roll out regulations for public comment over the summer, and then launch limited sports betting in the fall.
According to a fiscal impact statement prepared by legislative staff, it’s unclear how much it will cost the state to launch sports betting or what the state could expect for revenue. The fiscal note does that “prohibiting online lottery games could result in decreased costs associated with developing and operating mobile sports betting, but would also result in the loss of potential revenues available for the public purposes of lottery proceeds.”
In addition, it’s noted that based on Lottery estimates, prohibiting sports betting could decrease projected gaming revenue between $28-$63 million.