Oregon Considers Studying Lottery's Impact On Tribal Gaming

March 15, 2023
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Oregon has not taken a comprehensive look at its gaming industry since 1996, but with the introduction of sports betting almost four years ago, a bill being considered by a committee in the House of Representatives would require a study of the state lottery and its impact on tribal gaming.

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Oregon has not taken a comprehensive look at its gaming industry since 1996, but with the introduction of sports betting almost four years ago, a bill being considered by a committee in the House of Representatives would require a study of the state lottery and its impact on tribal gaming.

House Bill 3154, sponsored by the House Gambling Regulation Committee, would require the state's Department of Justice to study the Oregon Lottery.

A proposed amendment would instead require the legislative revenue officer and legislative policy and research director to jointly study revenue sharing models for the distribution of lottery revenues to tribal casino operators in Oregon and requires the study to be submitted by September 15, 2024.

A work session on the bill scheduled for Tuesday (March 14) was postponed for a week.

“It’s unclear yet what final form HB 3154 will take and if we will move it this session,” Representative John Lively, a Democrat and committee chairman, told VIXIO GamblingCompliance late Monday (March 13).

Based on legislative deadlines, the committee will have to take action on the measure by April 4 or it is lost for this session. The Oregon legislature is scheduled to adjourn on June 25, but bills are required to pass out of committee by early April.

“We are talking about how to continue a conversation around long-term potential growth in gaming revenues and the potential impacts on tribes and/or our willingness to consider revenue sharing of new sources,” Lively said.

Lively was named chair of the Gambling Regulation Committee prior to the start of the 2023 legislative session on January 17. His committee assignment comes after he co-chaired the Joint Interim Committee on Gambling Regulation that took a look at the state lottery and gaming laws over the summer.

Legal gambling in Oregon includes the Oregon Lottery, which operates traditional scratch-off tickets, keno games, video lottery terminals, as well as mobile sports betting through a contract with DraftKings.

The state also regulates horseracing, off-track betting, poker and charitable gaming. There are ten tribal casinos in Oregon, which operate under gaming compacts with the state.

“The Oregon Lottery is neutral on the bill and amendment,” said spokeswoman Melanie Mesaros. “As a state agency, we’re also neutral on the proposals to study gaming in Oregon.”

Mesaros said the lottery had testified several times to the House committee to “provide objective information and background, and we look forward to continued engagement with the committee and other policymakers, as gambling is a complex policy area.”

The Oregon Lottery is the second largest source of tax revenue behind personal income tax. Oregon does not have a general sales tax.

Lively admitted he and his colleagues were concerned about approving any changes that might have an impact on the lottery.

“In all our considerations to date, we have acknowledged the importance of lottery proceeds, specifically video poker which generates the most revenue,” Lively told VIXIO.

“We indeed are concerned about doing anything that jeopardizes that, hence trying to understand better what areas of potential revenue growth exists and how that fits with our current lottery system.”

During a committee hearing on March 7, Lively said as the committee has listened to the lottery, there does not appear to be a major thing they can do that is going to raise substantial funds.

“So we talked about sports betting,” he said. “Everything is small, but it doesn’t mean they can’t raise more funds, but it doesn’t appear to be anything on the horizon. That is part of what we want to figure out; what is out there.”

Mesaros told VIXIO that the Oregon Lottery has not asked the legislature to authorize any new forms of gaming.

She also declined to discuss whether revenue sharing between the lottery and the nine federally-recognized tribes in Oregon was permissible under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

“Oregon Lottery has committed to building positive government-to-government relations with each federally-recognized tribe in Oregon, and we have adopted policies and procedures to carry out that mission,” Mesaros said.

The revenue sharing amendment was also a concern to tribal gaming operators.

“It is difficult for us to support it,” said Anna Richter Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, adding that she was not consulted before the amendment was proposed.

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