Oregon Sports Betting Still Lacks College Sports

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Oregon Ducks fans look on in the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

If you planned a spring break trip to Oregon hoping to bet on March Madness, you experienced a rude awakening.

In Oregon, sports betting is prohibited on all college sports, with the only exceptions being certain tribal casinos. DraftKings, the state’s only regulated online sports betting platform, does not permit users in Oregon to wager on college games.

Currently in Oregon, you can legally wager on the NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, and a variety of other sporting events including darts, go-karts, and cricket but what you can’t do is place a bet on a college sporting event. No college football games. No March Madness.

The Oregon State Lottery facilitates all sports betting in the state. Although Oregon law doesn’t forbid the lottery from incorporating college games, the state Lottery Commission chose to exclude them when authorizing sports betting, acknowledging the NCAA’s discomfort with the concept. 

Consequently, Oregon users cannot place bets on college players or games via the DraftKings app. Oregon Lottery retailers are not permitted to offer March Madness brackets or sports pools.

There Have Been Calls For Change

Senate President Peter Courtney proposed a bill in 2022 that would have changed the current law to allow sports betting on college games. But Senate Bill 1503 died.

The proposed law ran into opposition from anti-gambling lobbyists and the tribal casinos, which expressed concern that the bill could siphon their revenue. They called for a task force and a commissioned study instead.

As of now, no current bills are being considered, so it’s still uncertain whether the law will be changed.

The NCAA used to be completely against sports betting. But in recent years, it seems they’ve changed their stance a bit. They still don’t allow college athletes and their own staff to bet on sports. Now, they’re more focused on encouraging states to improve their sports betting laws. They want these laws to do a better job of protecting college athletes.

Long History of Sports Betting in Oregon

Oregon has had a long history with sports betting. From 1989 to 2007, most online sports betting in Oregon happened on the state-run Scoreboard app and website. ​The state lottery had even launched an NFL betting game called Sports Action. 

However, they had to stop it because of the aforementioned concerns from the NCAA. Namely, it hindered the state from hosting the NCAA basketball tournament.

After the overturning of PASPA in 2018, which allowed each state to set up its own sports betting laws and regulations, Oregon welcomed back legal sports betting. On January 18, 2022, DraftKings Oregon started its operations. It replaced the Scoreboard app and is now the only legal sports betting app available across the state.  

Tribal casinos and other retail locations can offer casino gaming, including sports betting. However, there’s a problem: none of the tribal casinos are near Portland, the state’s largest city. They include the Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City, Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde, Three Rivers Casino Resort in Florence and The Mill Casino & Hotel in North Bend.

There are numerous places in Oregon where you can buy lottery games, instant tickets and play keno. Horse racing has been legal in Oregon since the 1940s.

College Sports Betting Discussion Could Resume in 2025?

So for now, The Beaver State will have to continue to get by without the ability to bet on college sports, but the discussion to expand continues

State Rep. John Lively, D-Springfield, chairs the House’s Gambling Regulation Committee. He told Oregon Public Broadcasting that he expects gambling on college sports will eventually be legal throughout Oregon. But he said it likely won’t happen for a few years, as it’s a contentious issue between the state and the tribal casinos, the only entities that offer such bets in the state.

“If we were to expand that to college betting, we would indeed be moving revenue that’s now in those casinos and more would be coming to the state,” Lively said. “We’re not in a position to want to do that at this point.”

Lively also told OPB he believes that online gambling will become the norm and that there’s an increasing need for legislators to step in and regulate where necessary. He expects it will become a bigger focus during the 2025 Legislative session.

On top of that, a group called “Sport Oregon”, which is backed by big names like Nike and the Portland Trail Blazers, has approached a committee in Oregon responsible for gambling regulations. Their goal is to persuade the committee to expand the sports betting industry.

We’ll keep you posted.