Oregon Lottery places bet on sports gambling for next NFL season

Oregon Lottery - KATU file.jpg

The Oregon Lottery is looking to kick off next football season by allowing people to bet on sports games through a phone app.

Initially, Oregon Lottery officials say people will just be able to pick the winners, either outright or against the spread.

"It's in the black market, offshore sports betting operations that people can access," said Oregon Lottery spokesperson Matthew Shelby. "The question that we're looking at is should there be a regulated, state-run way for people to do that?"

Shelby says the state lottery doesn't have any projections on how much revenue it could bring in annually.

The plan is to eventually allow for in-game betting at kiosks at bars and restaurants, similar to the video lottery machines.

"If you were at an Oregon lottery retailer, potentially, you'd have the opportunity to bet on additional things," Shelby said. "Who's going to have the most yards in the first half, that type of thing."

KATU's Reed Andrews learned that people will not be able to bet on collegiate sports. Shelby says the Oregon Lottery deemed that it's not in the state's best interest in part because universities throughout the state get money from lottery proceeds.

Whether the money from sports gambling will be directly earmarked for certain programs, or lumped in with the bulk of the lottery's funds is still being determined, according to Shelby.

KATU News reached out to state economist Mazen Malik, who says at this point his office hasn't done any estimates on how much Oregonians could spend in legal, state-run sports books.

Philip Yassenoff, the program manager for Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare's Gambling Treatment Program says it's vital the lottery increase funding for gambling addiction in response to legalized sports betting.

"Anytime you increase access to gambling, I think you may be increasing risk for some people," Yassenoff said. "The target audience is going to be younger, than in the past with lottery machines. This will probably be folks who have an interest already in sports betting and now will have a legal means to go at that."

Yassenoff says about 2.5 to 3 percent of the population has a "significant problem gambling" and that figure holds steady across the country.

"If you increase access that number will go up, or it will just reach a new population that isn't prepared for how much money they could lose," Yassenoff said.

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