Oregon Lottery’s Revenue Adjustment Exposes Flaws In Scoreboard’s Rollout

Posted on February 26, 2020

Adjusting revenue forecasts is a part of operating a business. The Oregon Lottery recently did that and the news isn’t great.

The forecast for this fiscal year recently swung almost $12 million dollars and not in the way the state would have liked it to have either. It points out several issues in the company’s launch of its sports betting product.

 

Details on the $11.6 million adjustment made by the Oregon Lottery

Before Scoreboard launched, Oregon Lottery officials exclaimed legal sports wagering would help the lottery make $6.3 million in revenue during the current fiscal year. That was a grossly optimistic figure.

Earlier this week, lottery officials downgraded that forecast to a loss of $5.3 million. Among the issues responsible were glitches in the app and initial costs that tremendously exceeded the initial projections.

A big part of those launch expenses could be the state’s contract with SBTech to operate Scoreboard. The details of that contract are currently unknown and part of a lawsuit seeking the release of the full documents pertaining to that deal.

The fact that the app didn’t launch until October, missing the start of the college football and NFL seasons, also played a part. On the topic of college sports, there are more hindrances on the horizon.

 

Lack of college betting options hamstrings Scoreboard’s competitiveness

So far, Scoreboard hasn’t offered bettors any action on college games. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look that will change any time soon.

As a matter of fact, that could be the case indefinitely. A bill in the Oregon House of Representatives, HB 4057, would ban legal sportsbooks in the state from taking wagers on college sports.

Given the fact that the Portland Thorns FC, Timbers and Trail Blazers are the only professional sports teams in the state, that’s a serious handicap for Scoreboard. Even if the product becomes profitable, it would always be a shadow of what it could be.

Additionally, carving college sports out of a legal framework for wagering is actually counterproductive. It does more harm than good.

 

Why leaving college sports betting on the black market is a bad idea

The thought behind keeping betting on college sports illegal is that doing so will severely limit that activity. That’s demonstrably false, as it will only keep that activity on the black market.

Whether using local bookies or illegal sportsbooks ran by offshore companies, Oregonians are currently wagering on games involving the Beavers, Ducks and other college teams.

Black market betting has no regulation and therefore is a breeding ground for attempts to fix matches. Just last week, a New York man pleaded guilty to trying to fix a college basketball game as part of an illegal gambling ring.

Sunshine is not only the best disinfectant against this behavior but affords college athletes protection from such schemes as well. When wagering happens in a regulated market with integrity monitoring, those devices lessen the likelihood that athletes will face bribery attempts.

Additionally, the state gets no benefit from illegal gambling. That extends beyond the pension funds that Scoreboard supports to funds for the treatment of Oregonians with compulsive gambling issues.

Part of Scoreboard’s issues are initial hiccups. If HB 4057 or another bill like it becomes law, however, the app will always face a disadvantage in competing with illegal gambling operations. That will harm more than Scoreboard’s bottom line.

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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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