With Oregon Legislative Session Over, Gaming Bills Sidelined Until 2024

July 5, 2023
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During a 160-day session, the Oregon legislature was able to pass a record school funding bill, set aside millions of dollars to reduce homelessness and agreed on $650m in bonding to build affordable housing, but several gaming bills remained in committee upon adjournment.

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During a 160-day session, the Oregon legislature was able to pass a record school funding bill, set aside millions of dollars to reduce homelessness and agreed on $650m in bonding to build affordable housing, but several gaming bills remained in committee upon adjournment.

House Bill 3154, sponsored by the newly-formed House Gambling Regulation Committee, would have required the state's Department of Justice (DOJ) to formally study the Oregon Lottery.

But that measure remained in the House Committee on Rules when the legislature adjourned on June 25. It is unclear if the measure will even be refiled or reconsidered in 2024 when lawmakers return to Salem for a 35-day session in even-numbered years.

The bill would have required the DOJ’s legislative revenue officer and the legislative policy and research director to study revenue sharing models for distribution of Oregon State Lottery to Indian tribes in the state that operate casinos.

The study was to be submitted by September 15, 2024.

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“We are pleased to see the legislature taking an active role in exploring Oregon’s gambling landscape, and happy to share as much information as we did regarding lottery operations,” Matthew Shelby, the lottery’s chief communications and engagement officer, told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

“While no specific legislation came out of this session, we anticipate gambling policy to remain a topic of interest in the future,” Shelby said.

Representative John Lively, a Democrat, 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 looked at the state lottery and gaming laws over the summer.

Lively said the committee was originally proposed based on concerns raised by tribal communities over the growth of state-run gambling and the potential impacts from that growth on the continued growth of tribal casinos.

“No clear direction at the state level regarding state gaming and the fact that no complete review had occurred at the legislative level since the citizens in Oregon authorized the lottery in 1984,” Lively said of the newly-formed committee.

“Maintaining the status quo is not without risks for all who rely on gambling receipts for important programs and is probably not realistic with growing threats to current gaming.”

Legal gambling in Oregon includes the Oregon Lottery, which operates traditional scratch-off tickets, keno games and 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.

In prepared testimony released before a committee meeting in March, Lively stressed that he and his colleagues were not proposing any expansion of gaming during the 2023 session.

“But we know forces and issues currently exist that might mean opportunities for expansion do exist,” he said. “HB 3154 is meant to start the conversation, hence no clear concept currently. Several tribes and other interested parties wanted to express thoughts on this concept privately.”

Going To The Dogs

Meanwhile, an effort to end the ability of gamblers world-wide to wager on greyhound races through an advance deposit wagering hub (ADW) in Oregon also failed to get out committee as the session ended.

The House Gambling Regulation Committee passed an amended version of House Bill 3514, but the measure was never considered by the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

Connie Winn, executive director of the Oregon Racing Commission (ORC), said she did not know if the legislature would take up a similar bill next session.

The bill would have required Winn and her staff to investigate reports of multi-jurisdictional simulcasting and interactive wagering totalizator hub licensees that, in violation of statute, permit greyhound wagering accounts to be opened by individuals in states where greyhound racing is illegal.

The bill also attempted to deny ADW hubs from accepting or facilitating wagers on greyhound races held at courses in Mexico, and after July 1, 2029, a multi-jurisdiction simulcasting and interactive wagering totalizator hub licensee would not be able to accept or facilitate wagers on greyhound racing at all.

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