The Oregon Lottery appears to have competition in the world of legalized sports betting.
And it has yet to even launch.
According to a representative with Chinook Winds Casino Resort, the tribal-owned property will add sports wagering “soon.” It is the first such casino in Oregon to seemingly make headway toward integrating legalized wagering.
A majority of tribal casinos across the country have taken a more cautious approach with sports betting. But Chinook Winds, owned and operated by the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon, appears ready to dive headlong into the waters of sports betting in Oregon.
Oregon casino teasing a retail sportsbook
On its website, Chinook Winds features quite the tease for those Oregonians eagerly awaiting the arrival of legalized sports betting:
“Add excitement to nearly every pro sport by laying a wager at Chinook Winds Casino Resort. Our new Sports Wagering Lounge is soon to open!”
A representative with the casino confirmed it was nearing the addition of a brick-and-mortar sportsbook. However, no other information was provided.
Instead, the casino rep hinted that Chinook Winds was actively working toward offering regulated sports betting.
Tribes have same opportunity as Oregon Lottery
For months, the Oregon Lottery has worked toward returning legalized wagering, with a potential launch in the coming weeks.
Grandfathered into the post-PASPA world but without betting since 2007, Oregon did not need legislation to opt in. Rather, it just needed to flip a switch.
In July, Oregon Lottery spokesman Matt Shelby pointed out that the state may not remain alone. Aside from the lottery, tribal casinos are scattered throughout the state. Those tribes, Shelby said, own negotiated compacts with Oregon. And within those compacts are clauses: Anything the lottery offers as a game, so can the tribes.
As a result, Oregon could feature more bookmakers other than just SBTech. As Shelby said at the time:
“Once we offer sports betting and now that it’s legal in the state, they can then work with the state of Oregon to offer it as well with whoever they wanted. That negotiation is with the governor’s office and them.”
The lottery will begin with professional sports only. It is not clear if tribes must follow suit, or if they must wait for the lottery to roll out their product before opening their own sportsbooks.
Messages to Chinook for additional detail and to the Oregon Lottery have yet to be returned.
Tribes a mixed bag on bringing in sports betting
Tribes are often reacting to the situation on the ground in their states. In Oregon, sports betting is apparently coming whether tribes want it or not, so at least one is opting in. What’s going on in some other states?
- Four New Mexico tribes have moved forward with sports betting without changing their compacts.
- New York tribes are moving forward with sportsbooks because it is allowed at the state’s commercial casinos.
- A tribe in Mississippi was the first outside of Nevada to offer sports wagering.
- Tribes in California, Florida and many other states are slow to push for legalization because other parties would also want to be involved. Connecticut tribes want to have sports betting, but don’t want to give up their exclusivity for gaming.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg; the dynamic is complicated in many states.
Consider, too, that sports betting remains a low-margin industry. Add to that a sentiment shared by Chris Stearns, Washington State Gambling Commissioner in nearby Washington.
“Is this going to help us? Is this going to hurt us? That’s really at the heart of why you see Indian tribes gently venturing into sports betting. … In a lot of states, tribes write a check out to the state in exchange for exclusivity. So, any time there’s a new gambling product, and you ask the state to authorize it, there is a risk the state will say ‘Sure, but it is going to cost you.'”
It seems such reservations have not held back the Siletz of Oregon. And soon, the tribes Chinook Winds casino could provide some sports betting competition to the Oregon Lottery.