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Seemingly lost in the sports wagering headlines among several US states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana enjoying record-breaking months in October was west coast Oregon. However, the campaign celebration will come with a few issues that need to be addressed.
The month of October set a record for Oregon in the handle. It’s the best month since sports wagering was legalized in August 2019. As per figures released last week on the Oregon Lottery website, the total sports betting handle in the state was $29.45 million, indicating a 12.5% increase from September’s figures of $26.17 million.
Breaking it down, 24,562 unique bettors placed approximately 903,187 sports wagers in October. That was an increase from 839,162 placed in September. Also, it was important to note 3,464 new registrations were also reported during the month. The spike was likely due to the continuation of the NFL football season plus the NCAA college football season getting into full force.
Most encouraging for the state is the major increase in revenue, jumping from $1.5 million in September to $2.8 million in October. A whopping 80.1% increase. The trend is likely due to similar reasons that have affected other states. Once exercising bonuses and promotions for new sign-ups and incentives for certain players allows for more revenue opportunity.
As in all US sports wagering states, football led the way in Oregon with $12.2 million of the overall $29.45 million handle, accounting for $1.5 million in revenue. Baseball with World Series action contributed $4.9 million, generating $346,027 in state revenue. Next was NBA basketball, providing $4.4 million in handle and $333,021 in revenue.
Somewhat of a pleasant surprise were other sports including soccer, which accounted for $3.5 million in total bets while generating $288,400 in revenue for Colorado. Completing the list were table tennis with $1.2 million in the betting handle and $138,704 in revenue. Also mixed martial arts accounted for $1 million in wagers and $103,894 in revenue.
Amid all the good news in October come a few areas of concern and reality Oregon and its governing body are readily aware of.
Online betting estimates for the year have fallen a bit lower than projections. After forecasting $6.3 million in revenue from mobile wagering, Oregon director Barry Pack has announced he expects a total $5.3 million loss for the first nine months of 2020. That news makes Oregon the only state in the US among 20 offering online wagering to lose money.
Two obvious reasons stand out needing to be addressed.
Oregon features a single betting platform called the Scoreboard app, which is run by the Oregon Lottery. It is powered by SBTech and was launched in fall 2019 following months of delays. The app cost the state more than $16 million to launch and has been rated very poorly among uses involved in Oregon in comparison to other sportsbooks.
The Oregon Lottery contributed only $4.5 million of the $66.2 million wagered via Scoreboard, resulting in a $2.3 million loss on online sports betting through January.
The other reason is Oregon currently does not allow wagering on “in-state college sports”. That is a significant void understanding the popularity of local college teams including the University of Oregon and Oregon State.
Faced with a similar issue, New Jersey is currently in legislative review to change their sports wagering laws to include betting on NCAA college sports. Also allowing for the potential to host major events in the state including NCAA bowl games.
As an alternative, Oregon bettors can place their college football wagers at Native American casinos within the state. That could be a significant catalyst for legislators to consider an amendment change. Of course, there still is the obvious opportunity for players to wager at illegal offshore sportsbooks as well.
Regarding the Scoreboard app and the Oregon Lottery, look for significant improvement driven by player demand plus the need to meet projections and optimistic expectations for sports wagering for Oregon in 2021.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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