The Oregon Lottery has already indicated its online sportsbook will not hit the market by its initial target date.
In a meeting of the Oregon State Lottery Commission on Aug. 30, Kerry Hemphill, the lottery’s manager of the sports betting product, noted that ensuring the app works correctly trumps having the first mobile sportsbook in Oregon ready in time for the opening kickoff of NFL season.
“We took a big look at the overall experience,” Hemphill said, “and wanted to go to the market with something accurate and hit a date … with something that we are proud of and works appropriately.”
Oregon Lottery emphasizes the importance to ‘get it right’
The goal, Hemphill said, is not for the Oregon Lottery to target a launch date “just to hit a date.” Instead, she emphasized that the lottery needs its Scoreboard app to be “functioning as it’s supposed to” in a safe and reliable way.
The digital sportsbook has already begun testing, during which time the lottery analyzes several facets of the app:
- System security
- User acceptance
- System integration
- Worldpay payment processing
While the Oregon Lottery will miss its initial goal to launch, Hemphill pointed out the tireless efforts of the lottery team, which includes “no less than 40 full-time employees” and “over a handful” of third-party vendors.
It seemed the lottery commission supports the cautiousness that has led to this delay.
One member said that, while regulated sports betting is “going to be an important step for Oregon … it’s much more important that we do this right,” in a lottery meeting held last week.
“If we can’t make that window you’re hopeful for, it’s important we get it right.”
No single obstacle has tripped up OR sports betting plan
A committee member, certainly speaking from a consumer’s perspective, wondered what the hold-up was and why the Oregon Lottery will not hit its early-September target date.
Much of the delay, Hemphill said, was attributed to detail. During this phase, testers are “acting as a consumer to catch anything that’s a little wonky and fix it before go-live.”
“It’s a new product,” Hemphill said. “There’s a tremendous amount of integrations that we’re dealing with, new companies we haven’t worked with before and ones we have.”
She added: “Each day something new pops up. It may not be a large issue, but something is popping up that we have to manage and fix before moving farther.”
While recognizing the disappointment many Oregon residents may feel in not having access to the online sportsbook, the Oregon Lottery noted that the financial impact on the state could be devastating with a product that works incorrectly.
“There’s a plan,” said Shad Barnes, senior digital marketing manager for the lottery. “We just need to be really certain.”
More details on Oregon sports betting emerge
As previously reported, the Oregon Lottery will offer only lines on international and domestic professional sports. It will not feature college sports markets.
SBTech will power the sports betting service, utilizing a Las Vegas office with what lottery officials described as a team dedicated solely to Oregon sports betting.
Using SBTech, the Scoreboard app will offer betting formats ranging from single-game to parlays as well as in-game wagering options. Naturally, the app will use a geolocating service to ensure betting occurs only from within state lines. On top of that, geofencing will prevent any use of the app on tribal lands.
Interestingly, that detail comes on the heels of Chinook Winds Casino Resort, a tribal-owned casino on the Oregon coast, opening the state’s first retail sportsbook on Aug. 27. Other tribal casinos have also expressed interest in opening brick-and-mortar operations.
As for the Scoreboard app, the Oregon Lottery mentioned during the meeting that it had begun the process of “leveraging sponsorships” with professional franchises in the state: the Portland Trail Blazers, Portland Thorns, Portland Timbers and Portland Winterhawks.
The plan is for the lottery to gain “access to the fan base” of each team in an effort to integrate “high-impact, high-profile, in-arena activations.”