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The Oregon Lottery is Keeping the Money It Collects From Sports Betting in an Unlikely Place

Ever heard of Bank of George?

The bank that has held at least $2 million in deposits for the Oregon Lottery's new sports-betting app is far from a household name.

The lottery's choice of a contractor, SB Tech, for Scoreboard raised questions earlier this year, especially as the rollout was delayed.

But the choice of a bank is even stranger.

Few companies contract with states for sports betting. But many banks operate in Oregon, and many are much larger.

Which bank is the lottery using?

Bank of George, a small, privately owned community bank headquartered in Las Vegas. The bank was founded in 2007 by Edward Nigro, a longtime real estate developer, and Timothy Herbst of the Terrible Herbst chain of convenience stores. The bank is named after George Washington and will service what the Oregon Lottery projects to be $1.6 billion in sports bets placed over the next three years.

How did this bank get the contract?

Lottery officials say they had nothing to do with it. SBTech, the company awarded the contract for Scoreboard, selected the Bank of George as a subcontractor.

"SBTech was tasked with producing a turn-key platform, based on our needs," Oregon Lottery spokesman Matt Shelby tells WW. "They chose to go with Bank of George to support the player accounts. Our contract is with SBTech and they contracted with BoG. Gaming accounts are a core area of the bank's business." Shelby notes that Bank of George also works with another company, Sightline Payments, "to support" a provider of sports-gambling accounts called "Play+ program at a number of casinos and sports betting apps across the U.S."

Why should I care?

In financial terms, Bank of George is a gnat. It has just one branch in addition to its headquarters and only 63 employees. In terms of deposits and assets, it is smaller than local Oregon banks such as Bank of Eastern Oregon, located in Heppner, or Citizens Bank, headquartered in Corvallis. Umpqua Bank is more than 50 times the size of Bank of George, as are the large regional and national banks with which the state normally conducts business. Gambling is a risky and complicated enterprise, yet the state is placing its reputation in the hands of a tiny, unknown player.