Super Bowl Lifts February Handle, But Oregon Sports Betting Revenue Plummets

Posted on March 19, 2021

After reporting a record month, the Oregon Lottery Scoreboard sports betting app took a step back February. However, a deeper dive into the month’s figures shows less worrying trends.

The difference in handle from January to February – a dip of about $5.3 million – is mainly attributable to a significant decline in the amount bet on football.

While February owned the Super Bowl, it lacked what January possessed: a month chock full of NFL playoff games.

Still, the cold, hard numbers bear out the unfortunate reality that February generated the least amount of revenue for Oregon, $2.68 million, since September 2020.

Signs of hope among month-to-month decline

Although both handle and revenue declined, the amount wagered by Oregon bettors in February represents the second-highest total seen in the state since Scoreboard launched in fall 2019.

Oregonians wagered more than $29.6 million last month, including nearly $3.5 million on the Super Bowl. The highest-ever handle in Oregon, $34.9 million, came in January.

The most ever garnered in revenue, $4.1 million, came in November 2020. Note, however, that the 16% hold that month is unlikely to be achieved again. For comparison, February had a 9.1% hold.

Oregon officials hope the hold percentage again rises to the more consistently achievable 11% range seen in December and January, thus boosting the amount brought back in revenue.

Lack of offerings hurt Oregon sports betting

It’s worth noting that fluctuating hold percentage is one risk of having a monopoly, where poor odds can have a more significant impact on the overall amount won or lost by bettors.

February also had various realities working against it.

Those include just one NFL game, a shorter calendar and the inability to offer college basketball betting on Scoreboard.

Expect the Oregon Lottery’s decision to not offer college sports betting rear its head more sharply this month as other states capitalize on March Madness.

That loss will feel especially poignant in Oregon, which sent both the Oregon and Oregon State to the NCAA tournament.

Basketball dominates month’s betting totals

The breakdown of betting by sport did not include any shockers.

Despite no college betting, basketball led the way by a significant amount. This comes as no surprise for a state known for its love of the Portland Trail Blazers and professional basketball.

Here is the breakdown of how much was bet by each sport on Scoreboard in February:

  • Basketball: $17.4 million
  • Football: $3.4 million
  • Soccer: $2.3 million
  • Tennis: $1.9 million
  • Hockey: $1.7 million

Other notable sports included table tennis ($1 million), MMA ($660K) and golf (460K).

Big change could be on horizon for Oregon sports betting

Scoreboard’s presence in Oregon has been far from a resounding success. Its revenues have lagged behind other states, notably New Hampshire, despite that state’s smaller population and similar monopoly.

One difference, however, is New Hampshire’s use of DraftKings Sportsbook to operate its betting market. Oregon could soon have a similar reality.

Barry Pack, executive director of the Oregon Lottery, indicated in February that negotiations continue with DraftKings to take over the state-sponsored betting platform, which currently uses SBTech, owned by DraftKings.

DraftKings has acknowledged the presence of negotiations.

“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,” a DraftKings spokesperson told Legal Sports Report.

DraftKings’ presence could also mean a reversal on the college-sports betting policy. The sportsbook relies heavily on college offerings throughout the year and will undoubtedly push for a policy change.

Additional information about the potential Oregon-DraftKings arrangement is expected to emerge at the Oregon Lottery Commission’s next meeting on March 26. Pack has told other commission members that he may be asking “for approval of a major procurement for this purpose” at the March meeting.

Photo by AP / Charlie Riedel
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George Myers

George Myers is a writer with extensive experience in both news and sports reporting. He has primarily covered baseball and football, along with the intersection of sports and lawmaking.

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