If Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney gets his way, 2022 will be the last year in which Oregonians can’t legally wager on March Madness online. Courtney’s Oregon college sports betting bill would finally open the state up in that way.
However, it would place one key restriction on the types of bets available. Regardless of how popular wagering on the College Football Playoff and March Madness could be in the state, some forces would prefer to see the status quo continue.
Oregon college sports betting bill would expand options
According to Connor Radnovich of the Salem Statesman Journal, Courtney introduced his bill in the OR Senate Committee On Rules earlier this week. SB1503 simply states that the Oregon Lottery may take bets on college sports.
During the hearing, two amendments surfaced. The first adds a restriction banning bets on individual athletes’ performances. The second earmarks the state’s revenue split from bets on college sports for college grants.
Currently, there is no language barring bets on college teams within the state’s borders. Other states like Illinois and Virginia have such limitations. It’s also important to note that Oregonians do have legal options for betting on college sports right now.
However, all of those options require them to visit a tribal casino and put those bets down in person. This bill wouldn’t affect those options. Rather, it would add the ability to do so online on DraftKings Sportsbook under the OR Lottery’s auspices.
That’s part of the reason why this bill doesn’t have universal acclaim. Some of the opposition is coming from the operators of those retail sportsbooks inside tribal casinos.
Tribal casino operators express concerns
Radnovich reports that a representative of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Justin Martin, spoke during the hearing. He expressed concern that opening up college sports for DraftKings in OR would hurt their bottom line.
“[SB1503] would be taking money out of tribes’ pockets,” Martin said. “We need to take a pause and study this and look at the right way to do things in Oregon moving forward.”
Courtney refuted Martin’s stance, stating that his bill does not take away from casino gaming at all. Martin might not be the only party that expresses displeasure at the notion of legal online betting on college sports in OR for long, either.
Since betting on college sports has been limited to tribal casinos in the state so far, the state’s colleges and universities have been silent on the matter of that activity. Should Courtney’s bill proceed, that could change.
Athletic directors in other places where it’s legal have spoken out against it. Among their criticisms is that it places unnecessary pressure on athletes to perform. Because they are unpaid for their labor, they are more susceptible to fixing games than their counterparts in other leagues.
It’s too early to tell what kind of resistance this bill might face in the state legislature from Courtney’s colleagues as well. For those who want to bet on college sports online in Oregon, this could be the final March Sadness.