• The Oregon Lottery will offer sports wagering via an exclusive partnership with SBTech Malta, Ltd.
  • SBTech has been accused by competitors of operating illegally in several countries, including Turkey and Iran.
  • Online sports betting should be live in OR well ahead of football season.

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon hasn’t passed any specific sports betting legislation, but it’s primed to become one of the next states to offer legal wagering within its borders.

Due to the pre-PASPA oversight of the Oregon State Lottery on limited sports betting, the agency is empowered to simply expand its own already-legal market. PASPA, or the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, was the 1992 federal ban on sports wagering that was overturned by the Supreme Court last May.

Barry Pack, director of the Oregon Lottery, made the state’s intentions clear last week when he signed a contract with SBTech Malta, Ltd.

While some of SBTech’s competitors – namely Scientific Gaming – have argued that the company operates illegally in other countries, Oregon officials have found such claims less than credible.

However, in allowing SBTech to heavily redact its contract with the state upon public dissemination, Oregon officials are facing hints and allegations of corruption.

Though such accusations will likely linger for the foreseeable future, it is clear that Oregon is moving forward. The soft deadline to launch sports betting in the state is the start of September.

Given that the NFL season is by far the most lucrative time of year for sportsbooks, Oregon will have to move quickly.

The state hopes to see an annual betting handle of $330 million in its first full year of lottery-based sports betting. That figure is expected to climb to upwards of $700 million by the third year of operation.

Part of SBTech’s allure for Oregon is the fact that it offers a complete online sports wagering package. In countries and states where it does business, SBTech runs both the backend book technology and the front-end user interface that powers public participation.

That means that SBTech is uniquely positioned to get the Oregon Lottery’s sports betting product up and running in short order.

Also alleviating the controversy, from Oregon’s perspective, is the fact that SBTech is already operating books for legal sports betting in three other states. These include New Jersey, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania, all of which have seen dramatic success with their sports wagering industries.

That said, the strategy is a point of contention even for many who don’t consider SBTech to be a bad-faith operator. Because Oregon sports wagering will be strictly online (at least for now), traditional lottery retailers in the state fear the pastime will cannibalize their markets.

Such venues include convenience stores, restaurants, and bars, all of which have offered Oregon Lottery products for years. These businesses are balking at the idea that they could be cut off from this new revenue flow.

Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, explains the issue in simple terms.

“Certainly, our retailers are concerned about mobile gaming. Our clients have brick-and-mortar establishments. If you can do it from your couch, that could be pretty devastating.”

It is unclear whether the Oregon Lottery could deploy sports betting terminals or kiosks in brick-and-mortar venues to alleviate the issue. Such could constitute a gambling expansion that requires legislative approval.

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