Guide to Oregon Gambling
Oregon is a "middle of the road" state when it comes to gambling.
They have charitable gaming, a lottery, poker, racing and social gambling. For a time, the Oregon Lottery even offered limited sports betting.
Even though they have all of this, they don't have commercial casinos, daily fantasy sports or regulated online gaming. Regarding the latter, Oregon criminalizes the act of accepting Internet gambling payments.
This makes it seem like you can't gamble online in the Beaver State. Nevertheless, you'll still find plenty of offshore operators here.
Why is this the case? Do you face prosecution when playing online casino and poker games here?
These are important questions that we'll cover in this review of Oregon's gambling laws.
We're also going to look at their brick and mortar gaming scene, casinos, poker rooms, gambling history and some FAQs.
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Online Gambling and Oregon Law
As mentioned in the intro, Oregon has tough laws against Internet gambling. This has led to some offshore operators avoiding the Beaver State altogether.
Don't worry. You'll still find plenty of offshore casino, poker and sports betting sites here.
This is part of Oregon's online gambling scene is so confusing. Moreover, some players worry that they risk being prosecuted due to the anti-iGaming law.
Below are some topics that'll help clear up the confusion surrounding Oregon online gaming.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Oregon?
It's illegal to accept almost any type of payment in exchange for iGaming services.
Code 167.109 (1) in Oregon's criminal code bans accepting online gaming payouts, and lists several different payment methods. Here's the law:
"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:"
- Credit cards
- Electronic fund transfers
- Check, draft or "similar instrument"
- "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."
This law doesn't explicitly ban online gambling.
Instead, it bans common methods of accepting online gambling deposits. And the penalty for breaking this law is a class C felony.
But one exception that isn't covered includes cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin. That's because these are open source payment solutions that are handled by "miners."
Cryptocurrencies bypass banks and central governments and don't involve a "financial institution as a payor or financial intermediary."
Aside from the cryptocurrency exception, code 167.109 (1) makes it hard for any Internet gambling site to legally accept deposits from Oregonians.
Can I Get Arrested for Gambling Online in Oregon?
Code 167.117 (7) offers the following definition of 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."
Internet gambling isn't licensed by Oregon, and isn't given an exception in the state constitution. Therefore, it's technically illegal to play online casino and poker games.
But Are You Really Going to be Arrested?
We can't find one instance of somebody being arrested for Internet gambling.
This doesn't mean that Oregon can't use statue 167.117 (7) to purse a case against a player, but it's highly unlikely that they'd do so.
Why Does Oregon Allow Illegal Offshore Gaming Sites?
The Beaver State doesn't allow offshore gambling companies. In fact, there are many offshore gaming sites that are illegally accepting bets from Oregon residents.
The problem here is that few states take legal action when the owners live in foreign jurisdictions.
Many times, offshore gaming sites are located in places like Antigua, Costa Rica, Curacao and Panama. It would take a tremendous amount of the state's legal resources to pursue operators based in these countries.
Another factor is that Oregon doesn't have a huge gaming industry to protect from offshore operators. This means that they're even less likely to dedicate money and manpower towards an online gambling case.
Oregon will, however, pursue operators that are living within state lines.
According to Oregon Live, the state cooperated with federal agents to bring down an eight-person iGaming ring. Seven of the men were from Oregon, while the eighth member lived in California.
Running a ring out of the Portland based Lava Café, the men accepted online bets over the phone, in person and through a website. They were also selling marijuana, which is another aspect that put prosecutors on their trail.
Of course, the Lava Café instance is far different from launching a case in an offshore country/territory. That said, we don't see Oregon pursuing any major legal action in the near future.
Is My Money Safe at Offshore Gaming Sites?
It depends upon the site.
Most offshore gaming companies are reputable and realize the value in repeat businesses. A minority of sites have poor customer service and process cashouts slowly.
Obviously you want to avoid the latter, which is why it's important to do research before signing up and depositing anywhere.
The easiest way to do research is by checking out reviews. You should also consider visiting any prospective site yourself and looking at the following criteria:
- Game Variety
- Bonus Terms & Conditions
- Customer Service
- Deposit Options
It's fun to jump from game to game during an online gaming session. Of course, you need a solid variety of games in order to do this.
Wagering requirements determine how much you must wager before cashing out a welcome/deposit bonus. The industry standard for wagering requirements is 20x the bonus, plus deposit amount (a.k.a. 40x the bonus).
Checking out customer complaints online is a good way to find out about a gaming site's support. Of course, you can always contact live chat with a simple question and see for yourself.
Some offshore gaming companies are lacking in deposit options. Visit the cashier page and make sure that you can use one of the available banking methods.
Breaking down what exactly is or isn't legal in Oregon. Gambling Venues in Oregon
Where to gamble in the state of Oregon. The History of Gaming Laws in Oregon
A brief history of Oregon laws regarding gambling. Oregon Gambling FAQs
A list of questions asked about gambling in Oregon Additional Information
Still have questions? Check out these links. The Future of Gambling in Oregon
What does the future of gambling look like in Oregon?
More Gambling Laws in Oregon
Casinos & Video Gaming: Legal (Tribal Only)
Oregon's tribes can negotiate with the state to offer both Class II and Class III gaming.
Class II gaming consists of bingo, pull tabs and punchboards. This also includes slot machines, but they must determine results through AI bingo games.
Class III gaming consists of commercial casino games like baccarat, blackjack, roulette, three card poker, slots and video poker. In this case, the slot machines determine results through a random number generator.
All seven of Oregon's tribal casinos are located on Native American reservations. The tribes have unsuccessfully tried to build casinos on public land.
One reason why the state doesn't feel the urgency to do this is because Oregon already has lots of video gaming spread throughout its bars and restaurants.
These video lottery terminals earn over $800 million in annual revenue, and are a big source of tax revenue. Meanwhile, tribal casinos don't pay gambling tax revenue to the state.
Charitable Gambling: Legal
Oregon has friendly charity gambling laws.
Approved charities are allowed to offer bingo, lotteries, raffles, poker tournaments and Monte Carlo nights. The latter includes commercial casino games like baccarat, craps, roulette and three-card poker.
As per code 167.112 (5)(a), the following groups are eligible for charity gambling licenses:
Licensing must be obtained from the Oregon Department of Justice.
Also note that the Beaver State has several restrictions on charity gambling. Code 167.118 lays out these restrictions:
- 100% of proceeds must go to the designated cause.
- Check sections 464.250; 464.380; 464.420; and 464.450 in the constitution to see where bingo, raffle and Monte Carlo events can be held.
- Bingo and lottery games can't offer over $2,500 for a single game, or over $10,000 for the entire function.
- Monte Carlo nights can only offer non-cash prizes.
- Bingo events can only take place twice per year.
Voters approved the Oregon Lottery in 1984. Available games include: Lucky Lines, Keno, Mega Millions, Pick 4, Powerball and Win for Life.
The state also manages the video lottery terminals found throughout many bars, convenience stores and restaurants.
Oregon has lots of poker rooms, with a large concentration in the Portland area. This gives players access to a large number of games, including 7 card stud, Crazy Pineapple, Omaha, Omaha Hi Lo and Texas holdem.
Pari-mutuel betting has been legal in Oregon since 1933.
The Oregon Racing Commission oversees the state's racetracks, including Crooked River Roundup, Grants Pass Downs, Harney County Fairgrounds and Portland Meadows.
The Beaver State is one of the few states where greyhound racing is legal. Although Multnomah Greyhound Park - formerly Oregon's only greyhound racing venue - stopped offering events due to low revenue.
Social Gambling: Legal
Code 167.117 (16) makes way for legal social gaming with the following:
"A person who gambles at a social game of chance on equal terms with the other participants therein is a person who does not otherwise render material assistance to the establishment, conduct or operation thereof by performing, without fee or remuneration, acts directed toward the arrangement or facilitation of the game, such as inviting persons to play, permitting the use of premises therefor and supplying cards or other equipment used therein."
The only catch is that the host can't profit through a house edge, poker rake or by selling food and alcohol. Of course, this is common in any state's social gambling laws.
Sports Betting: Legal
The Oregon Lottery began offering Sports Action in 1989. This NFL-based parlay game made Oregon the only state that offered sports betting through a government agency.
The federal government banned all sports betting in 1992 through the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Oregon was one of four states grandfathered into this law, along with Delaware, Montana and Nevada.
The NFL tried to stop Oregon from running Sports Action, but they couldn't do anything legally because of the fact that the Oregon Lottery only used city names in order to avoid infringing upon trademarks.
Sports Action eventually came to include NBA and NCAA products. The NBA sued, while the NCAA announced that they'd no longer hold March Madness tournament events in Oregon.
The Oregon Lottery would drop the NBA parlays because they weren't making enough money.
The State Legislature voted to discontinue Sports Action at the end of the 2006-07 NFL season. Governor Ted Kulongoski signed off on the bill, and the sports betting product was discontinued in 2007.
Gambling Venues in Oregon
Oregon has seven tribal casinos and over a dozen poker rooms.
The largest casino is Spirit Mountain, which offers over 2,000 slot machines and 50 table games. Wildhorse Resort & Casino is the next biggest, featuring 1,200 slots and 17 table games.
Spirit Mountain, which is located 60 miles from Portland, is currently being threatened by Washington's Ilani Casino, which is located 25 miles from Portland.
The $510 million Ilani offers over 2,500 slot machines, 75 table games and multiple fine dining restaurants. Given that it's closer and larger, the Ilani Casino is stealing many of Spirit Mountain's customers.
No one knows how Oregon gaming will be impacted long term by the Ilani Casino, but it's clear that the southern Washington casino is providing fierce competition.
Below, you can see a few of Oregon's tribal casinos and poker rooms:
Beach Poker Club
890 Seneca Rd, Eugene, OR 97402
Chinook Winds Casino
1777 Northwest 44th Street, Lincoln City, OR 97367
Crooked River Roundup Racing
590 SE Lynn Blvd, Prineville, OR 97754
High Mountain Poker Palace
1020 Green Acres Rd, Eugene, OR 97408
Indian Head Casino
3236 US-26, Madras, OR 97741
3201 Tremont St, North Bend, OR 97459
1001 N Schmeer Rd, Portland, OR 97217
Seven Feathers Casino Resort
146 Chief Miwaleta Ln, Canyonville, OR 97417
Spirit Mountain Casino
27100 OR-18, Grand Ronde, OR 97347
Wildhorse Resort & Casino
46510 Wildhorse Blvd, Pendleton, OR 97801
History of Gambling in Oregon
Oregon's formal gambling history begins with the 1933 passage of the Pari-mutuel Wagering Act. This legalized both greyhound and horse racing.
In 1976, Oregon approved bingo and raffles for charitable gambling purposes. This finally gave state residents something beyond racing to gamble on.
The passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act gave Native American tribes the ability to negotiate casino gambling pacts with states.
The Cow Creek Tribe took advantage of this and opened Oregon's first casino in 1994. The following year, Governor John Kitzhaber vetoed legislation that would've created racinos.
So far, Oregon has failed to make any serious efforts towards legal online gambling. Hopefully this will change at some point in the near future.
State passes Pari-mutuel Wagering Act, and Oregon Racing Commission is created.
The state amends the constitution to allow charity bingo and raffles.
Oregon Lottery is legalized.
State Legislature bans private video lottery terminals.
Gov. John Kitzhaber vetoes bill to allow VTLs at racetracks.
Texas hold'em approved for charity gambling.
Voters reject commercial casinos with a 70% vote.
Portland Meadows track opens.
Federal government passes Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Oregon legalizes Sports Action lottery, becoming the first state sports betting operation.
Cow Creek Tribe opens state's first casino in Canyonville.
Multnomah Greyhound Park stops greyhound racing due to low revenue.
Oregon stops Sports Action after lawsuits and complaints.
Washington's Ilani Casino opens 25 miles away from Portland, threatening Oregon's northern casinos.
Oregon doesn't technically ban online gambling, and they have gaming sites operating in their state. This situation can be a confusing one for Oregon online gamblers.
We'll share some of the FAQs we've received to help clear things up.
According to ESPN, Oregon follows a "material factor" test in regards to whether daily fantasy sports (DFS) are legal or not. A material factor makes it difficult, but not impossible, to declare a skill based game legal.
Oregon resident Brandon Peck launched a lawsuit in January 2016 seeking to reclaim losses fromthe DFS sites DraftKings and FanDuel.
Polk's lawsuit claimed that daily fantasy is illegal, therefore he and over 100 other mentioned players should get their losses back.
Oregon didn't take any legal action against DraftKings or FanDuel afterward, and both sites continue operating in the state.
In summary, DFS is still considered a grey area in Oregon.
Maybe in the future, but they're currently the only state that has passed a law against accepting online gambling payments.
It's not unthinkable that Oregon might change this stance in the future. After all, they have neighbors that have either legalized iGaming, or are serious about doing so.
Nevada became the first state to regulate online poker in 2013. California has been discussing iPoker legislation for the past several years.
Seeing neighbors earn revenue from online gaming is a powerful motivator to enact legislation. Oregon is currently a long way off from taking action though.
They don't even have commercial casinos, and their tribes don't pay revenue to the state. These are two factors that keep politicians from making a serious push for iGaming.
Given that Oregon technically has legal sports betting, it begs the question of whether or not they'll regulate the activity online. We don't see this happening for decades due to two reasons:
- They quit running the Sports Action lottery over a decade ago.
- Legalizing online sports betting would draw a number of lawsuits and negative publicity, just like Sports Action did.
The NFL and NCAA are staunchly against Internet sports betting, even though many offshore sportsbooks serve America.
If Oregon were to legalize online sportsbooks, it would likely draw so much legal action that the limited profits wouldn't be worth the effort.
Code 167.117(8) describes an illegal gambling device as follows:
"... means any device, machine, paraphernalia or equipment that is used or usable in the playing phases of unlawful gambling, whether it consists of gambling between persons or gambling by a person involving the playing of a machine. Lottery tickets, policy slips and other items used in the playing phases of lottery and policy schemes are not gambling devices within this definition. Amusement devices other than gray machines, that do not return to the operator or player thereof anything but free additional games or plays, shall not be considered to be gambling devices."
This sums up numerous devices, including a smartphone, tablet, computer or any Internet capable product.
As we discussed earlier, Oregon hasn't arrested any players for online gambling, and we don't see any reason why they'll start doing so in the near future either.
Oregon is unique in that their state police have a hand in supervising the gaming industry. Agreed upon in the state's compacts with local tribes, the Oregon State Police work with tribal officials to ensure fair gaming.
You can see more details on this arrangement below along with info on other Oregon gaming agencies.
Oregon Department of Justice- The State Department of Justice handles charitable gaming matters, including licensing and enforcing rules. Their website offers charity gambling laws and FAQs.
Oregon Tribal Gaming Division- The OTGA is a coalition of federally recognized tribes that own and run the state's casinos. This organization also looks out for the welfare of their tribes and distributes gambling revenue to the appropriate channels.
Oregon State Police - Gaming Division- The State Police works with the OTGA on a number of gaming matters.
The Future & Your Views
It's illegal in Oregon to accept most online gambling transactions, making it difficult for offshore sites to legally operate in this state.
Will they ever consider legalizing and regulating the activity themselves?
Most states will eventually pass iGaming legislation, but Oregon figures to be amongst the last to do so.
The biggest problem is that they don't have a commercial gambling industry or share gaming revenue with tribes. This leaves little motivation to draft an online gaming bill in the absence of commercial casinos.
A lot needs to change before Oregon begins seriously considering legal Internet gambling.
It would help if they legalized commercial gaming venues, or at least allowed tribes to build on public land (through revenue sharing deal).
If California, Idaho and Washington regulated iGaming, this would help put pressure on Oregon to do the same.
Until these events occur, Oregon online gamblers will have to stick with offshore sites.