Lawmakers Signal Distrust for the Oregon Lottery by Seeking to Ban Betting on College Sports

Several state lawmakers chafed at the lottery’s foray into sports gambling without legislative consent.

Oregon Lottery terminals. (Jason DeSomer)

The Oregon Legislature's short session begins Feb. 3. It's expected to be a narrow session—focused chiefly on a carbon cap—but lawmakers will try to shoehorn in other proposals. Like these:

BILLS OF THE WEEK: House Bills 4057 and 4153

CHIEF SPONSOR: HB 4057 was introduced by the House Interim Committee on Education at the request of the presidents of Oregon's universities. HB 4153 is sponsored by Reps. Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany) and Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles).

WHAT PROBLEM THEY SEEK TO SOLVE: Both bills seek to place guardrails around the Oregon Lottery after last year's launch of an online sports gambling app, Scoreboard.

WHAT THE BILLS WOULD DO: The first would prohibit gambling on college sports. The second would prohibit expansion of Lottery games, such as video poker (other than sports-gambling and multistate lottery draws), to cellphones and computers.

WHO SUPPORTS THEM: Several state lawmakers chafed at the lottery's foray into sports gambling without legislative consent. The bills are a sign that legislators don't trust the lottery—or Gov. Kate Brown's pledge not to allow state-sponsored gambling on college sports.

"It is a responsible action to contain sports betting at the collegiate level before it begins," says Rep. Paul Evans (D-Monmouth), who he favors the first bill and is likely to sign onto the second as a co-sponsor, making it bipartisan.

Evans plans to pursue amendments that would enshrine in law the determination of Legislative Counsel that lawmakers have the authority to limit expansion of the lottery—and even halt existing games if they find online sports gambling is "hurting the public interest."

WHO OPPOSES THEM: Brown's office and Oregon Lottery officials say they haven't taken a position on the bill. In the past, lottery officials have argued that legislators should have a limited role in preventing the lottery from pursuing its charge to bring in revenue for the state.

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