Oregon Lawmakers Say Sports Betting Needs Oversight
Oregon Lawmakers Says Sports Betting Needs Oversight
After the recent launch of Oregon Lottery’s sports betting mobile app, Scoreboard, lawmakers in the state have begun to criticize the lottery’s ability to oversee their own decisions without input from legislators.
At stake in the matter is bettor’s ability to wager online in Oregon, as lawmakers could declare that Scoreboard falls outside the lottery’s constitutional authority.
Oregon’s second-biggest revenue generator, after personal income tax, the lottery has enjoyed years without interference from the state’s legislators but the launch of Scoreboard has turned the once prosperous relationship sour in recent months.
“There needs to be accountability,” says Rep. Paul Evans, one of several lawmakers who have created a bi-partisan group challenging the lottery’s new mobile app as a possible gateway drug to creating larger betting addiction issues for citizens without significant benefits to the state’s coffers.
Although lottery officials have pushed away claims from the state’s legislation on the legal validity of their constitutional authority, lawmakers recently were given a legal opinion by Legislative Counsel that could change the power structure and force oversight upon the state’s lottery.
What Legal Grounds Could Flip the Oregon Lottery’s Constitutional Authority?
Lawmakers have consulted with their counsel and the two parties agree that the Scoreboard app could be the tipping point in what brings power back to the legislators with regard to overseeing the Oregon Lottery.
“You asked whether the Legislative Assembly may place limits on the operations of the Oregon State Lottery Commission and the Oregon State Lottery, particularly with respect to the introduction of betting via mobile platforms,” reads a Nov. 6 memo from Legislative Counsel Dexter Johnson.
“We think a court would likely uphold legislative restrictions on the use of mobile platforms for lottery gaming.”
For legislators, the problem with the Scoreboard app is that it creates far more problems for the state than benefits.
The lottery projects that the state’s citizens will wager in the neighborhood of $1.6 billion in total bets over the next three years.
From that total of $1.6 billion, the state is in line to net roughly $37 million in tax revenue.
The 2.3% margin is far lower than the state’s lottery brings home with other games, making it a costly risk when you consider what widespread gambling could cause to the state’s families and social services.
Although the state’s lawmakers have not widely voiced their concern on the Oregon Lottery’s oversight, they have threatened to take the case to court, something lottery spokesperson Matt Shelby believes is an empty threat since the lottery has been open with their Scoreboard implementation plan.
“We’ve been transparent about our plans, dating back to early 2018,” Shelby tells the Willamette Week. “Our plans to offer sports on a mobile platform were common knowledge when the Legislature voted to direct proceeds from the game to the (Public Employee Retirement Systems’) Employer Incentive Fund.”
Even though lawmakers could potentially put a halt on Scoreboard, Governor Kate Brown’s administration will not have their support as the lottery continues to be a strong source of income for Oregon.
“While legislators have the prerogative to explore their authority with regards to gaming, the Oregon Lottery provides an important revenue stream for our state, funding a variety of key services,” says Charles Boyle, Brown’s spokesman.