The state of Oregon is the first to report out on their January legal sports betting handle and if their numbers are any indication of what is to come, more records should fall across the nation. According to the Oregon Lottery January figures released on Wednesday, the state is off to a good start for 2021 with the potential for even brighter days ahead.
While Oregon’s Lottery-based betting platform set a handle-record in January, it has largely struggled to gain much traction in the state since its launch in October 2019. But news that the state may move its regulatory duties from the Oregon Lottery to the Oregon Racing Commission would end the underwhelming single-vendor model that has been allowed to exist. It means that some much-needed sports betting provider competition could be coming soon to the state of Oregon.
First, January’s numbers
January’s sports betting menu was bolstered by a full slate of NBA and NHL action as well as always-crucial NFL playoff games. There was plenty for bettors in the state to sink their teeth into in January. According to the Oregon Lottery, $34.9 million in legal bets was taken in during January – an increase of 29.5% from December when about $27 million was reported. It is easily a record for the state of Oregon. Gross Gaming Revenues came in at $3.9 million which represents another sharp increase – 26.9% over December’s $3 million. January’s revenues still fell short of the record $4.1 million in revenues from November.
Things Are Going to Have to Change
As of now, Oregon bettors only have two choices for legal sports wagering in their state – the state lottery’s Scoreboard mobile app and 2 tribal retail casinos where in-person only betting takes place. That single-vendor lottery model has been holding the state down in terms of its sports betting potential and keeping bettors away.
There are a number of US legal sports betting states that have adopted a similar Lottery model… and each can be described as underwhelming so far. Each started out as a single-vendor model with state Lotteries in control of regulation of their platforms.
Washington, DC, Montana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Oregon have all taken the Lotteries approach with regard to their legal sports betting platform and each has had their share of issues. Uncompetitive odds from the Lottery corps., technical issues and related lack of sign-ups for their legal sports betting brand have been a reality in those states.
Governor Kate Brown has introduced legislation to move Oregon away from a single state-sponsored app to a competitive market. While still short on details, HB 2127, if passed, will drastically change the way legal sports betting is regulated in the state.
Under the new bill, the Oregon Racing Commission would take control of the legal sports betting platform in Oregon and invite some much-needed competition to the market. Not only would it bring choice to Oregon bettors, but it would also bring top-tier, high-profile and attractive providers, ones that Oregon bettors have been missing out on since their platform went live.
More providers would bring more licensing fees and bring more reluctant bettors into the fold. College sports betting would be permitted under the new bill, opening up a whole new menu of wagering opportunities for bettors in the state.
Righting the Wrongs
Despite Oregon setting a sports betting record in January, the state still lingers near the bottom in terms of yearly handle and revenues for participating legal sports betting states. Just $263 million in bets has been reported since October 2019 with less than $23 million in sports betting revenues over that span.
In the first six months of operation, the mobile betting scene in Oregon reported a $2 million loss in revenue despite almost $6 million in net revenue.
It is hoped that competition will bring with it a new attitude for the legal sports betting industry in Oregon as well as some more accountability. The single-vendor model clearly isn’t working. At least the Governor and legislators appear to be trying to right that wrong.