Oregon Lottery Considering DraftKings Sportsbook Rebrand For Sports Betting App

Posted on March 1, 2021

What might New Hampshire and Oregon soon have in common, other than the population of both states sitting at exactly 50.4% female?

Each state could essentially offer identical legal online sports betting landscapes. That is if the Oregon Lottery is successful in establishing a DraftKings Sportsbook in the Beaver State.

In a lottery commission meeting last week, news emerged of ongoing negotiations with DraftKings to take over the operation of the state’s lone online sports betting platform, Oregon Lottery Scoreboard.

This could be great news for Oregon bettors for several reasons.

Might there really be a DraftKings Sportsbook in Oregon soon?

While the details remain fuzzy at the moment, this plan appears well underway. Barry Pack, executive director of the Oregon Lottery, spoke to the rest of the commission about the situation, noting that negotiations with DraftKings are currently happening. He also gave his perspective on the deal.

“This provides the lottery with many opportunities, including benefitting from the economies of scales with the company. We are in initial discussions with them [DraftKings] to transition Scoreboard from the SBTech platform to the DraftKings platform as well as any other potential products and services. It is likely I will be coming to you in the March meeting for approval of a major procurement for this purpose.”

There’s a lot to unpack in that statement. First, it’s uncertain exactly how far along initial the discussions have gone. However, Pack’s characterization of needing approval for spending on this matter as soon as next month suggests there is some degree of finality.

The transition from Scoreboard is self-explanatory. At some point, the Scoreboard logo and name and all the other design elements will go away. Instead, Oregonians will access the DraftKings app and website courtesy of the state lottery, just as New Hampshire bettors do. DraftKings is also the sole sportsbook operator in the Granite State thanks to a contract with the lottery.

This should be a huge improvement for Oregon bettors in terms of functionality. The Scoreboard app has been unreliable at times and also failed to offer a competitive amount of markets and promotions. It might be good for Oregonians in another way.

Lottery might be able to negotiate friendlier terms

One of the worst-kept secrets in the sports betting industry was that the existing contract between the lottery and SBTech was heavily skewed toward the latter. A scrutiny of the contract revealed that over the first five months of the deal, the state lost almost $2 million.

Meanwhile, SBTech did quite well during that same period, getting a big share of nearly $3 million. DraftKings owns SBTech, so you could call this move more of a rebranding than a takeover. However, a new contract means an opportunity to get on more equal footing.

Conversations along these lines appear to have been happening for quite some time, according to a statement from DraftKings.

“Since acquiring SBTech in April 2020, DraftKings has had conversations in the ordinary course of business with the Oregon Lottery about how best to serve Oregonians who are passionate about sports betting.”

Working out a more mutually beneficial arrangement is probably part of the ongoing talks between the two parties. Another item of interest to Oregon bettors is probably wagering on college sports.

Is college sports betting coming to Oregon, too?

There’s nothing in Oregon state law that forbids college sports betting. The lottery simply decided not to offer it when it launched Scoreboard in 2019. Therefore, it could just as easily reverse course on that decision at any time.

There’s reason to doubt that the lottery will suddenly do so, however. When it elected not to offer college sports betting, the lottery cited wanting to protect the interests of in-state universities. But, technically, now is an opportunity to change this policy. DraftKings offers a robust array of markets for college football and men’s basketball in other jurisdictions.

This deal would obviously mean an easier and quicker path into the state for DraftKings. It may prove the only way to do so for quite some time. Gov. Kate Brown proposed a bill to shift the legal framework to allow multiple operators under the lottery’s supervision. That legislation, though, has stalled in the state legislature.

There’s no telling how quickly the DraftKings transition will take place should the lottery reach a deal. However, at some point in the future, Oregonians may join the throng of people able to wager on events like drone racing and the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Photo by AP / Charles Krupa
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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