Scoreboard, Oregon Lottery’s new sports betting game, went live October 16 and already has 21,155 registered users betting $1.5 Million in wagers, according to Patrick Johnson, Public Information Specialist with the Oregon Lottery. Players can access Scoreboard through the app or desktop version and make bets of up to $250,000 on NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, PGA and NASCAR matches.
But some gambling recovery experts are wary of the impact the game will have on people suffering with gambling addiction. Players can use their bank accounts, debit cards and credit cards to place money in their play accounts, meaning they could bet 10s or even 100s of thousands of dollars at a time.
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting in May of 2018 and 18 states, including Oregon, have now legalized it. The ruling paved the way for the state to enter into a contract with SBTech, an off-shore company that also works with New Jersey, Mississippi and Pennsylvania.
Some gambling addiction recovery advocates see the release of Scoreboard as a public policy concern for people with gambling issues, particularly because the state legislature and the general public didn't have a voice in the game’s creation.
A local member of the gambling recovery community—who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of their work—said another concern lies in the increased opportunities to gamble in secrecy.
Currently, 1 percent of Oregon Lottery proceeds are set aside for gambling addiction treatment. The millions collected every year go to providers that are contracted with the state. Players can access help through the Oregon Problem Gambling Resource website where they can be connected to an online chat, make appointments for telephone counseling, and find providers in their local area.
- Oregon Lottery
In Bend, BestCare Treatment Services runs a gambling-specific outpatient program funded by the state that is free of charge for Oregon residents.
Johnson explained that problem gambling is something Oregon Lottery takes very seriously and has set up a system on the new app to help those who are struggling. The game allows players to set monthly limits on how much they can spend. They also have the ability to kick themselves off the app altogether.
“Here at the Lottery, we feel like we want to see a lot of people play a little,” Johnson said. “Scoreboard is a way to expand the market without asking current players to spend more money.”
Johnson adds that the creation of the game was in partial response to player demand. Oregon tried sports betting over a decade ago with a paper-based game called Sports Action, but pressure from the NCAA forced them to shut it down.
In order to comply with state-by-state laws and agreements with Oregon tribes, the platform has a unique geocaching feature that requires players to be within state lines and off tribal lands when wagering bets. They can check the status of their bets and collect wins after leaving Oregon, however.
Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City began taking sports bets this August and more tribes are predicted to get in on the game. Other sports betting opportunities at brick-and-mortar locations are in the planning stages, and should roll out sometime in 2020 or early 2021, according to Johnson.
Currently the Oregon Lottery collects over $1 billion for the state every two years, providing a revenue stream for education, state parks and job creation, according to Oregon Lottery's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The revenue from Scoreboard is earmarked for the Employer Incentive Fund, a state fund that matches employer contributions to Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System—currently over $26 billion in the red. The game is predicted to generate $8.3 million in available resources in 2019-2021, according to the Oregon.gov revenue forecast.
SBTech, the creators of Scoreboard, has been accused of profiting off of black-market gambling operations in Turkey and Iran. Its contract with the state had whole pages blacked out before it was released to the press, according to a June 2 article in The Oregonian.