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Editorial: Legislature should debate Oregon plan for sports betting

24th November, 05:06

A-A+ Bulletin Editorial BoardView stories and bio

On the Oregon Lottery's new phone app, people can bet as much as $250,000 in one day. Some legislators want to debate that number and other aspects of the new Oregon sports betting app.

They should.

But there may be a hurdle in the way. Can they do so legally?

According to a legislative opinion, yes. But that opinion has not been tested in court.

"You asked whether the Legislative Assembly may place limits on the operations of the Oregon State Lottery Commission and the Oregon State Lottery, particularly with respect to the introduction of betting via mobile platforms," reads a Nov. 6 memo from Legislative Counsel Dexter Johnson, according to Willamette Week. "We think a court would likely uphold legislative restrictions on the use of mobile platforms for lottery gaming."

There is bipartisan concern from legislators about the betting limit of $250,000 a day. It seems like a lot, right? Is there a good reason it should be that high? Is there a good reason it should be lower? Should the government dictate how much people can bet?

There is also some debate about expected returns from the sports betting. It's going to be 2.3% of the money bet. That's a lower return than for the lottery's other games. And, of course, there's concern about what easy access to gambling on a smartphone will mean for the rate of problem gambling in Oregon.

Those are all fair issues for legislators to raise. But it is also true that the lottery board has not been hiding what it was doing. It holds open public meetings. Legislators could have raised concerns then. Maybe they should have. When the concerns are raised, though, should not be the issue. The issue is if Oregonians feel like their government has come up with a good program on a controversial topic.

You should let your legislator and the lottery board know what you think.