The expanding legal sports betting industry in the United States has largely been based in the eastern part of the country thus far. New Jersey was the catalyst in the overturning of the PASPA after all, so maybe this is just the way the dominos were set. However, the wild west may be just getting started, and the state of Oregon could add to the western profile sooner than later.
Although the state was grandfathered in during the PASPA era, Oregon never fully utilized its opportunity. This all changed last week when Oregon began the steps to launching its regulated sports betting industry once and for all. During the monthly meeting of the Oregon Lottery Commission in March, the lottery recommended selection of SBTech as its provider—a vital step for implementing sports betting.
Oregon Priming for Legal Sports Betting
In an important move buried near the bottom of a March presentation at a state commission meeting, there were several slides which detail the lottery’s “Sports Betting Selection Process and Recommendation.” The Oregon lottery has conducted a market survey which includes internal reviews and assessments of how a vendor would work with Oregon sports betting. From this, the state was able to create a short list of suitable vendors including such heavy-hitters as Playtech and SG Digital. Of course, SG Digital is a sports betting partner of Caesars Entertainment in both New Jersey and Mississippi. However, the lottery has selected SBTech due to the vendor’s ability to provide a “turn-key, sports-betting platform and sportsbook for digital and on-property wagering.”
SBTech has the Experience
SBTech is originally a European company. However, it already has made its presence felt stateside as it already has a strong presence in five casinos in the United States. This includes the Golden Nugget and Resorts Atlantic City in New Jersey. Adding more credibility, SBTech has also partnered with the racetrack Churchill Downs.
In the presentation, the Oregon Lottery noted that SBTech “is a sports bet vendor, not a lottery vendor.” Also, the Lottery feels SBTech shows its sports betting expertise in “product design and focus on player experience,” two of the often overlooked aspects of the sports betting industry.
SBTech and its player-centric and innovative products are what attracted the Lottery and their knowledge of the direction of legalized sports betting. SBTech has the experience in what can only help Oregon create the competitive market they seem to desire. “With their innovative features and capabilities, OSL can compete with black market operators effectively with a solid go-to-market strategy and positioning itself very well at launch.” Combating the black market effects on a state-run and legal sports betting industry is something other states have contended with on the fly. Oregon seems to be taking all the necessary precautions.
The Oregon Lottery’s RFP Team is all-systems-go, as they are charged with finding a vendor, they selected SBTech by a unanimous decision back in mid-March. The lottery’s executive team then quickly approved this selection only five days later with a Notice of Intent to bring in SBTech as the sports betting vendor sent shortly after. Now, the Oregon Lottery and SBTech can enter contract negotiations. This partnership will also need approval from the Oregon State Lottery Commission, but this hardly seems to be a roadblock. More meetings are scheduled in April where more progress on the partnership is expected.
Oregon Definitely a Step Closer
The ball started rolling just this past February when Oregon Lottery spokesman Matthew Shelby confirmed publicly that his state could introduce legalized sports betting by as early as fall in 2019. “We are working internally through various options,” Shelby stated, “but we still have a goal of rolling something out to Oregonians in time for the 2019 NFL season.”
He also stated that online wagering could go live right away. A move many other states have not been as fortunate to pass so quickly. However, in order for the lottery to meet that very profitable deadline, “our initial offering will need to be mobile-based, leveraging the Oregon Lottery app.”
As with every state’s legal sports betting industry, there is a lot of money at stake. Just last fall, the Oregon state lottery estimated that legal sports betting could generate annual revenue of over $100 million following the first-year report of $35.5 million. Once fully matured, their sports betting industry possesses the potential to result in more than $120 million annually.
That’s a whole lot of cash that any state could use. However, as every state legalizing sports betting has encountered, Oregon may have its own, unique roadblock as the state’s sports betting might not include wagering on college sports at all. One reason for the holdup could be is that the state’s universities receive a cut of lottery revenue and this would be a basic conflict of interest. However, it could also be due to Oregon’s recent history with the NCAA. Recently, the University of Oregon was put on 2-year probation by the NCAA for several violations.