The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Oregon Sports Betting

Posted on February 20, 2020

Oregon sports betting has been live for about four months now. That time has afforded the opportunity to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of the market.

There are bad, good and ugly aspects to Oregon’s legal wagering landscape. The state can minimize the negatives while preserving the positives if it takes the right action.

Oregon sports betting’s positive aspects

The biggest strength of the Oregon sports betting market is online access. Oregon residents and visitors can access the platform via a desktop site or apps for both the Android and iOS markets.

Branching out from there, Oregon has been smart by avoiding the traps that other states fell into. That includes requiring bettors to register for their accounts in person.

Oregon does have brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at tribal casinos. The state’s lottery operates its Scoreboard app, however.

In other states where the activity is limited to retail operations or in-person registration is the law, handle has been limited. The more convenient it is for people to wager legally, the more likely they are to do so.

That applies to self-service kiosks at retail lottery locations around the state as well. That makes the platform available to those with less access to technology.

Convenience and easy access are the biggest positives for Oregon. There is one restriction that limits the success Scoreboard could otherwise have, however.

The bad of Oregon sports betting as it currently stands

Unfortunately for bettors in Oregon, one of the most popular markets is inaccessible on Scoreboard. That could change, however.

Scoreboard doesn’t offer action on college sports. Given the fact that the Portland Timbers and Trail Blazers are the only men’s major professional sports teams in the state, that’s a significant weakness.

Portland Thorns FC represents professional sports on the women’s side and that would be an opportunity for the market in Oregon to differentiate itself. Many of the other states with NWSL franchises within their borders didn’t post lines on those matches last summer.

Regardless of whether or not that happens, there’s no denying how much more action Scoreboard could see if Oregonians could wager on college sports. That will prove especially true next month during March Madness.

While that’s a definite weakness of the market given the popularity of Oregon and Oregon State athletics, it isn’t the worst aspect. There’s another more nefarious element at work.

The ugliest aspect of Oregon sports betting right now

Because the state lottery oversees Scoreboard, there is essentially a state-protected monopoly for online sports betting in Oregon right now. None of the tribal casinos in the state have online components.

The lottery didn’t build its own platform for Scoreboard. It contracted with SBTech and runs Scoreboard on that company’s software.

SBTech has worked to keep secret the details of how it landed that contract with the lottery. Those efforts currently include several lawsuits.

Two media outlets made requests for copies of the contract between the lottery and SBTech. The state’s Department of Justice approved those requests, but rather than comply with the state’s order, SBTech filed multiple lawsuits to try to keep it private.

The suits argue that revealing the contracts would make SBTech’s trade secrets public and enable competitors to replicate its models. Even if that was true, the people of the state still deserve to know how many of their tax dollars SBTech is taking and what those dollars will be used for.

Hopefully, the lawsuits levied by SBTech fail and the state amends its law to allow wagering on college sports. The state should be given credit for its wisdom in making Scoreboard easily accessible, however.

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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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