Oregon

Sports Betting in Oregon

Oregon has a strange relationship with gambling—permissive in some areas but excessively strict in others. They’re one of four states that were exempted in the PASPA Federal sports betting legislation due to a NFL parlay card game offered by the Oregon lottery at one point. On one hand, many forms of gambling are legal in the state but on the other hand lawmakers spend excessive time and resources going after benign forms of gambling like ‘social’ poker rooms in Portland.

In many way, their experience with gambling mirrors that of many other states. The first legal form of gambling was parimutuel betting which was legalized for horse racing in 1931 and greyhound racing in 1933. Greyhound racing no longer exists in the state though there is one horse track. Portland Meadows runs a live racing season from late September to early February. The continued viability of the track was in question for years but they were purchased by the deep pocketed Stronach Group who owns a number of racetracks around the country including Gulfstream and Santa Anita. The track offers simulcast wagering and historical racing based slots games though the Stronach Group’s investment might be in hopes that they’ll be allowed to expand their gaming offerings at some point. Oregon residents are also allowed to play at advance deposit wagering websites like Xpress Bet and TVG. There are also approximately a dozen off track betting locations throughout the state with six in the Portland Metro Area.

In 1971 charity gambling became legal followed by the legalization of social gambling in 1973. The social gambling component in particular has been of keen interest since it has been used as a loophole on a number of occasions. The general proviso is that social gambling is legal as long as the house (whether a company or individual) profits from running the game. Most recently, it has been used as the basis for a proliferation of poker rooms in Portland. The city and state seems intent on cracking down on this, more likely because they don’t want the ‘competition’ for the Oregon Lottery than for any other reason.

The Oregon Lottery was authorized in 1984 and they have grown in size since then. Today, they offer several draw games including Mega Millions and Powerball, a Keno game every 4 minutes, scratch-off instant games and a growing array of video lottery terminals (VLTs). At one point, the VLTs were primarily garden variety video poker game but that has changed significantly in recent years. Today, you won’t find any simple video poker games but instead a catalog of ‘Class 2’ style slot machines. There are a few video poker style games but with a brutal payout percentage of 91%. In an interesting twist, the lottery runs their VLT games not only at bars but at many tribal casinos. In 1991, they were first allowed in bars and after an amendment a couple years later there’s a limit of six machines per property.

The only casino gaming is offered at one of eight Native American properties within the state. Currently, the tribal casinos are allowed to offer Class 3 gaming including slot machines, video poker, table games, live poker along with old standbys like bingo and keno. The relationship between the tribes and the state has been a very contentious one. Despite a fairly generous compact that currently exists the state mounts a legal challenge for any effort by the tribes construed as an effort to expand their gaming offerings.

Oregon is in the unique position that they could offer NFL parlay wagering immediately. It was offered for a number of years as part of a state lottery game called ‘Sports Action’ which was terminated after the state was strong armed by the NCAA. More recently, the Oregon Lottery confirmed plans to offer online sports betting with the target launch date of late 2019. And in a case of ‘everything old is new again’ they have tentative plans to revive the ‘Sports Action’ parlay card game.

Sports Betting in Portland

The unofficial motto of Portland is ‘keep Portland weird’ but unfortunately for Oregonians that ‘weirdness’ extends to the state’s attitude on a variety of issues. Recreational marijuana is legal in Portland but meanwhile Oregon has some of the most restrictive alcohol laws in the country. Gambling is no different and Oregon is excessively permissive in some areas but excessively strict in others. They’re one of four states that were exempted in the PASPA Federal sports betting legislation due to a NFL parlay card game offered by the Oregon lottery at one point. On one hand, many forms of gambling are legal in the state but on the other hand lawmakers spend excessive time and resources going after benign forms of gambling like ‘social’ poker rooms in Portland.

In many way, their experience with gambling mirrors that of many other states. As the state’s largest city, Portland was usually at the epicenter of the development of gambling in Oregon. The first legal form of gambling was parimutuel betting which was legalized for horse racing in 1931 and greyhound racing in 1933. Greyhound racing no longer exists in the state though there is one horse track. Portland Meadows runs a live racing season from late September to early February. The continued viability of the track was in question for years but they were purchased by the deep pocketed Stronach Group who owns a number of racetracks around the country including Gulfstream and Santa Anita. The track offers simulcast wagering, historical racing based slots games and a poker room though the Stronach Group’s investment might be in hopes that they’ll be allowed to expand their gaming offerings at some point. Oregon residents are also allowed to play at advance deposit wagering websites like Xpress Bet and TVG. There are also approximately a dozen off track betting locations throughout the state with six in the Portland Metro Area.

In 1971 charity gambling became legal followed by the legalization of social gambling in 1973. The social gambling component in particular has been of keen interest since it has been used as a loophole on a number of occasions. The general proviso is that social gambling is legal as long as the house (whether a company or individual) profits from running the game. Most recently, it has been used as the basis for a proliferation of poker rooms in Portland. The city and state seems intent on cracking down on this, more likely because they don’t want the ‘competition’ for the Oregon Lottery than for any other reason. As recently as 2017 there were over a dozen poker rooms in the city operating under the ‘social gambling’ regulations but today there are only a handful.

The Oregon Lottery was authorized in 1984 and they have grown in size since then. Today, they offer several draw games including Mega Millions and Powerball, a Keno game every 4 minutes, scratch-off instant games and a growing array of video lottery terminals (VLTs). At one point, the VLTs were primarily garden variety video poker game but that has changed significantly in recent years. Today, you won’t find any simple video poker games but instead a catalog of ‘Class 2’ style slot machines. There are a few video poker style games but with a brutal payout percentage of 91%. In an interesting twist, the lottery runs their VLT games not only at bars but at many tribal casinos. In 1991, they were first allowed in bars and after an amendment a couple years later there’s a limit of six machines per property. More recently, the Oregon Lottery confirmed plans to offer online sports betting with the target launch date of late 2019.

The only casino gaming is offered at one of eight Native American properties within the state. Currently, the tribal casinos are allowed to offer Class 3 gaming including slot machines, video poker, table games, live poker along with old standbys like bingo and keno. The relationship between the tribes and the state has been a very contentious one. Despite a fairly generous compact that currently exists the state mounts a legal challenge for any effort by the tribes construed as an effort to expand their gaming offerings. Portland gamblers do have options—it’s a 3 hour drive to Seattle and the area’s many cardrooms and Native American casinos. It’s 5 hours to Vancouver with even more casino gaming options. Thanks to busy Portland International Airport there are dozens of non-stop and connecting flights to Las Vegas and Reno, most with a ticket price of well under $200.

As seen on