Oregon Casinos, Gambling, and Law Regulations: An Overview

You wouldn’t normally think of Oregon as your go-to destination when it comes to gambling, but this is where you would get it all wrong. The Beaver State offers a wide range of gambling options that go from social gaming, lottery, bingo, and raffles, to state-run lottery and tribal casinos. However, there aren’t any commercial casinos as we know them at the moment, but that too might change in the future.

In this article, we are going to explore the gambling laws that apply in Oregon and the legal gambling options you can exploit when visiting Oregon. Keep reading for your share of Oregon’s gambling landscape.

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Gambling Laws in Oregon — The Law Overview

Gambling in Oregon is structured and regulated under chapter 167 of the Oregon Statutes which focuses on the legal forms of gambling and penalties for unlawful gambling. On the other hand, chapter 461 of the Oregon Statutes deals with the State Lottery enterprise and the legislation surrounding hosting different lottery games.

However, the history of regulated gambling in Oregon begins with the 1933 Pari-Mutuel Act aimed at regulating all forms of pari-mutuel betting. Under this Act, the Oregon Racing Commission was established and given control over all horse and greyhound racing in Oregon. Both on and off-track wagering is allowed in Oregon, and it dominated the gambling landscape until the creation of the Oregon State Lottery. The Oregon State Lottery was created in 1984 under the Constitutional amendment by Oregonians, and the first lottery tickets and scratch cards were sold next year.

The State Lottery quickly moved from offering just lottery tickets and scratch cards to the realm of sports betting. Namely, in 1989, they introduced a Sports Action betting game where players could wager on the outcomes of professional games. Sports Action offered bets on NFL games and NBA in the beginning; however, following a lawsuit by the NBA, wagering on basketball games was stopped.

What gave the State Lottery the necessary boost to continue offering sports betting was Oregon’s exemption from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, making it one of the four states in the USA that can offer legal sports betting. The legislators voted to discontinue the Sports Action game in 2006.

Further changes in the legislation occurred in 1992 when the State Lottery was permitted to include Virtual Lottery terminals, known as VLTs. The VLTs are gambling machines that might be categorized as modified slot machines that are controlled by a centralized server which ensures the outcomes of games are random and paid out according to the theoretical payout percentage.

Under chapter 167 of Oregon Statutes, licensed charity, fraternal, humane, non-profit, patriotic, philanthropic, and other kinds of social organizations can operate two bingo nights per year where the prizes can’t exceed $10,000 per game. Other games these organizations can offer are lotteries, Monte Carlo games nights, raffles, and Texas hold ’em poker which was allowed in 2005 with buy-ins limited to $200, and the only prizes allowed are non-cash prizes.

Oregon Revised Statutes

According to Oregon Revised Statutes, gambling is defined in this way: “‘Gambling’ means that a person stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the control or influence of the person, upon an agreement or understanding that the person or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.”

The legislation views games of chance in the following way: “‘Contest of chance’ means any contest, game, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance, notwithstanding that skill of the contestants may also be a factor therein.”

Unlawful gambling is defined as a Class A misdemeanor under chapter 167.122 and includes playing any game not sanctioned by the law. The punishments for such actions are defined under section 161.635, and the fines fixed by the court for this misdemeanor do not exceed $6,250. If a person promotes unlawful gambling and profits from it, then that person is guilty of a class C misdemeanor that might include some jail time as well.

What Forms of Gambling are Allowed?

Casino games, as seen in the most prominent casino resorts of Vegas, are only available in tribal casinos across Oregon. According to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, tribes are allowed to set up casinos and offer Class II and Class III games to players. Class II games include bingo, pull tabs, and punchboards, whereas Class III games consist of blackjack, roulette, baccarat, three card poker, video poker, and poker. The Cow Creek Tribe opened the first tribal casino in 1994, and since then, several others have been opened.

Lottery games like keno, pull-tabs, and scratch cards are offered by the Oregon State Lottery and are entirely legal. Apart from these, the Oregon State Lottery also provides the above mentioned VLTs. In Oregon, even bars and taverns can offer up to six VLTs, while racetracks can have up to ten VLTs. The maximum bet is capped at $2.50, while the maximum payout is set at $600. The State Lottery operates a network of 3,950 retailers and around 11,600 Video Lottery terminals across the state.

Charitable gaming like bingo, pull-tabs, raffles and Monte Carlo nights is also allowed and organized by non-profit organizations. The organizations must first obtain a license from the Department of Justice and follow strict rules of charitable gaming. A prize for a single game can’t exceed $2,500, and the total budget of the organization can’t be more than 22% of their total annual handle.

Social gaming is allowed in Oregon and is defined as “A game, other than a lottery, between players in a private home where no house player, house bank or house odds exist, and there is no house income from the operation of the social game; and If authorized pursuant to ORS 167.121, a game, other than a lottery, between players in a private business, private club or place of public accommodation where no house player, house bank or house odds exist, and there is no house income from the operation of the social game.” As long as you don’t make money out of it, you can continue to host your poker nights.

Horse racing has been popular in Oregon since the beginning of the 20th century. It is regulated and overseen by the Oregon Racing Commission that states there is only one racing track in operation in Oregon, called Grants Pass Downs, which offers on and off-track pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing.

The only legal online form of gambling clearly defined as such in the Oregon Law is pari-mutuel wagering on horse races at racetracks in Oregon. In chapter 167.109 of Oregon Statutes, internet gambling is prohibited and “A person engaged in an Internet gambling business may not knowingly accept, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful gambling using the Internet:”.

We can see the ban is directed more towards the financial institutions and gambling operators which are prohibited from processing payments from Oregonians. There isn’t a provision of the law that forbids players from playing online at some of the offshore online casinos and poker sites. Moreover, by using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the gaming operators and players technically won’t violate the law, as cryptos do not fall under the jurisdiction of financial institutions of the state.

So, the bottom line is — you won’t be persecuted for playing in offshore online casinos even though these are technically not legal in Oregon.

Where to Gamble in Oregon?

There are several premier casino gaming options among Oregon’s tribal casinos. We have come up with a couple of choices you should consider if you want to gamble in Oregon.

Chinook Winds Casino — Lincoln City

Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln is situated on the banks of the North Pacific Ocean. It is home to over 1,100 slot machines with regular and progressive jackpots worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Other than these, you can find dozens of keno, roulette, blackjack, and poker tables open 24/7 for your enjoyment. The lodging options include a high-end Chinook Winds Hotel equipped with deluxe rooms and a top-of-the-line swimming pool, sauna and spa, as well as a full-service hotel restaurant. Chinook Winds Casino’s address is 1777 NW 44th St, Lincoln City, OR 97367, United States, and the resort is welcoming guests all year long.

Spirit Mountain Casino

Spirit Mountain Casino is run by the Tribes of Grand Ronde that have managed to establish a premier gaming destination in Oregon. Spirit Mountain Casino has over 2,000 slots, blackjack, keno, roulette, and poker games on its gaming floors that span across 90,000 square feet of space. The casino also includes a 254-room hotel and exclusive dining options that include buffets and fine-dining restaurants. Located just 65 miles off Portland, Spirit Mountain Casino is welcoming players 24/7 on 27100 SW Salmon River Hwy, Grand Ronde, OR 97347.

FAQ

What forms of gambling are illegal in Oregon?

The legal forms of gambling in Oregon include tribal casino gambling, lottery, bingo, VLTs, poker games, social gaming, charitable gaming, sports betting, and greyhound racing.

Are daily fantasy sports legal in Oregon?

Daily fantasy sports belong to the gray area of gambling legislation, as there is no mention of them being either banned or allowed. However, players continue to play these games at unregulated sites without much fear of legal persecution.

Is online gambling legal in Oregon?

The only legal online gambling in Oregon is wagering on horse racing, but players can also access various offshore online casinos, as no law bans them from doing so.

What is the legal gambling age in Oregon?

The legal gambling age for tribal casino gaming and VLTs in Oregon is 21, while to bet on horse racing or play lottery games, you need to be over 18.

What games are offered in Oregon Tribal Casinos?

In Oregon’s tribal casinos, you can play slots, poker, blackjack, roulette, keno, and many other games.