Oregon is one of the better states to live in as a gambler. Gambling options in the state consist of tribal casinos, one horse racing track, a state lottery, certain forms of online betting, social gambling and charitable games. Additionally, the state issues licenses to organizations wishing to host real money poker games.
Online gambling in Oregon does not yet include sports betting, but officials with the state lottery have asserted as recently as 2018 that they believe they have the legal authority to reinstate sports betting whenever they wish due to the broad authority given to the lottery for introducing new games. Oregon is one of the main states to watch as the race to legalize sports betting in the USA heats up.
Oregon is one of the few states other than Nevada to have ever offered sports betting in any form. The old Sports Action game that allowed parlay-style wagers on the NBA was shut down in 2007 was very limited, but the lottery may have the power to bring back full-scale sports betting now that the federal sports betting prohibition has been stricken down.
As far as online casinos and poker sites go, there are no active efforts at this time to legalize those activities. This does not necessarily mean Oregon is opposed to the idea forever. In 2013, lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann said the state lottery was taking a “wait and see” approach.
On the other side of the issue, Governor John Kitzhaber seems opposed to the idea. He stated in 2013 that he was against any expansion of online gambling. His words at the time indicated that he would use all levers available to him to say “no” to any lottery plans to legalize online poker or casino games.
Top Ranked Betting Sites in Oregon
Horse and Greyhound Betting:
Games of Skill:
Overall, the state isn’t completely opposed to legalizing additional forms of online betting but it has some significant hurdles to clear before that happens. There are a number of active lawmakers on both sides of the issue so anything can happen in coming years. The direction Oregon takes will likely be influenced by how other states approach the issue.
Online gambling will probably be expanded in Oregon at some point. The state has a healthy relationship with the land-based gambling industry and is in fact one of the only states in the US that licenses and regulates online horse racing sites.
The state’s current approach to gambling indicates a certain level of comfort with the idea. In some states, gambling is treated as a vice that should be fought every step of the way. Oregon, on the other hand, has already proven that it doesn’t have any sort of innate aversion to gaming in any form.
Legal Online Gambling in Oregon
Oregon is open to a couple of forms of online betting. Any betting site that you see listed in this section is legally authorized to accept residents from Oregon. State gaming laws very clearly outlaw “unlawful” internet gambling but that does not include certain forms of gaming expressly authorized by the state:
Horse Racing Websites
Oregon is quite accepting of horse racing betting in all its forms. The Racing Commission oversees all live racing, simulcasting racing betting and even online wagering. Several of the largest horse betting sites in the country operate under a license from the state’s racing commission.
A bill signed in 1997 made Oregon one of the first and only states to regulate horse wagering websites. This is the state from which TwinSpires, TVG and other big names in the industry operate legally. Thus, it should be no surprise that you suffer from no lack of options when it comes to placing horse wagers over the internet. The commission currently licenses 9 betting companies that operate dozens of individual racing betting sites.
Racing websites licensed in other US jurisdictions (such as North Dakota) are also permitted to accept wagers from Oregon residents. You can check out my full reviews of each site here:
Federal laws consider fantasy sports betting to be a contest of skill and therefore exempt from all gambling regulation. The industry has caught on in a big way over the last couple of years and is now the fastest-growing form of legal betting in the US. Competition in industry is heating up but two big sites still reign supreme in terms of size, growth and overall quality:
Fantasy sports sites have been operating in Oregon for years due to it being unclear whether or not the state’s definition of “gambling” applies to daily fantasy contests. To date, the state attorney general’s office has taken no stance on the issue and Oregon remains open for business.
There is a chance Oregonians receive clarity some time soon. Two bills introduced in 2017 are looking to settle the matter once and for all. One of these bills (HB 2761) wants to include fantasy sports in the state’s definition of “gambling.” This would most likely result in the end of daily fantasy sports as we know them in Oregon.
The other bill (HB 2549) wants to instead authorize the Oregon State Lottery Commission to regulate the industry and issue licenses to DFS sites. HB 2549 does not offer many details on its own apart from standard rules such as a minimum age of 18, segregation of players’ funds from operational funds and prohibit participation of users who may have conflicts of interest. It will remain up to the Lottery Commission to set licensing rules and registration fees.
WorldWinner.com is a website owned and operated by the Game Show Network that offers real money wagering on games of skill. This site is considered legal because chance plays no role in determine the winners. For example, you could visit WorldWinner.com to play a game of Scrabble against another player with real money on the line.
WorldWinner is a decent skill gaming site but it’s not very large and the vast majority of the games are played for small stakes. Dated software doesn’t do much to build credibility, but the site is legitimate and has so far proven to be a safe place to compete against other people in games of skill.
Sports Betting in Oregon
Oregon is on the shortlist of states that may soon authorize sports betting in the wake of the Supreme Court decision striking down the federal sports betting ban. In recent times, a number of industry insiders have pointed to Oregon as a candidate to become one of the first states to offer legal sports betting.
About a month before the Supreme Court ruling, an Oregon Lottery official told Legal Sports Report that the state lottery may be able to bring back sports betting due to the state’s history with sports gambling. The Oregon Lottery says it will study the situation closely, but that it may in fact be able to introduce sports betting games without any new legislation.
The reason for this belief has to do with the state’s history with sports betting. Oregon was one of the few states granted an exemption from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) due to a type of parlay betting game offered by the lottery at the time.
Under PASPA, any form of sports betting already legal and being conducted during a stretch of time running from 1989 through 1991 was grandfathered in. At that time, the Oregon Lottery had a sports wagering game called Sports Action that allowed customers to place parlay-style bets on NFL and NBA games. Sports Action was shut down in 2007, but it could presumably reactivate the game in the future if the state chooses.
You can read more about PASPA and its effects on sports betting here.
Oregon Gambling Laws
The gaming laws of Oregon permit most forms of land-based gambling provided they are hosted by licensed individuals or institutions. Social gambling is also permitted as long as the house does not profit by charging fees or running games with odds that benefit the house.
Section 167.116 of the State Statutes defines gambling as follows:
“Gambling” means that a person stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the control or influence of the person, upon an agreement or understanding that the person or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.
The law includes a few exceptions that aren’t considered gambling. Certain games that are played for tokens, games run by charitable, fraternal and religious organizations and social games are all considered not gambling under the law.
A little further down in that same section, the law explains that “unlawful gambling” is defined as any gambling game not specifically authorized by Oregon law. Section 167.122 makes it a Class A misdemeanor crime to participate as a player in any form of unlawful gambling. The punishment for Class A misdemeanors in Oregon includes a jail term of up to 1 year and a fine of up to $6250.
Section 167.127 makes it a Class C felony to knowingly promote or profit from unlawful gambling. This is the crime you would be charged with if you were to run an underground casino that earned an income from gamblers. The punishment for this crime could get you up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $125,000.
Laws Pertaining to the Internet
All of the above crimes could also be applied to the internet due to Oregon’s classification of “unlawful gambling” as anything not specifically authorized by the state. Fortunately for those who play at offshore poker sites and casinos, this law has never been used to charge a person for online gambling.
Oregon also has laws on the books that specifically address internet gambling. SB 755 passed in 2001 outlines the penalties for processing payments for unlawful online gambling activities. Section 2 makes it a Class C felony to process financial transactions for unregulated gaming sites with the following text:
(1) A person engaged in an Internet gambling business may not knowingly accept, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful gambling using the Internet:
(a) Credit, or the proceeds of credit, extended to or on behalf of such other person, including credit extended through the use of a credit card;
(b) An electronic funds transfer or funds transmitted by or through a money transmission business, or the proceeds of an electronic funds transfer or money transmission service, from or on behalf of the other person;
(c) Any check, draft or similar instrument that is drawn by or on behalf of the other person and is drawn on or payable at or through any financial institution; or
(d) The proceeds of any other form of financial transaction that involves a financial institution as a payor or financial intermediary on behalf of or for the benefit of the other person.
(2) Violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class C felony.
In summary, Oregon doesn’t overly restrict gambling compared to most states. The state allows most forms of real-world gambling in addition to a few forms of online betting. However, the state comes down hard on anyone involved in unlawful gambling. Your best bet here is to stick with what’s legal and avoid the legal risks associated with unlicensed gaming.