Oregon Real Money Online Gambling
Oregon has been very open toward betting on horse races since the Great Depression, and don’t really have much of a problem with other forms as well. Gambling itself doesn’t really bother them, but commercialized gambling does, and this is quite clear given that they allow real money poker to be offered at public establishments and private clubs provided that the establishment does not profit directly from the games by raking pots or charging a fee to play.
Even though they do have legal casino gambling in the state that is definitely operated commercially, this has been limited to Indian tribes exercising their federal exemptions from state gambling laws, which is why we see so many Indian casinos in states that would rather have no gambling.
Oregon does want it, but on their terms, and preferably offered by the state itself, like the state lottery now offering a true sportsbook. They don’t want you playing poker or casino with the house participating, although perhaps they will come to the decision to offer these things themselves in time and reap the benefits.
Join us for a tour of Oregon’s gambling scene, and we’ll show you what you can and can’t do, and how you may do it.
History of Gambling in Oregon
Oregon authorized its first gambling in 1933 by passing the Pari-Mutuel Wagering Act, and created the Oregon Racing Commission the same year in order to regulate it. This was also the year where the state saw its first pari-mutuel betting, at Multnomah Stadium, which later became renamed Multnomah Park, which continued until 2004 and was closed due to dwindling interest in betting on greyhound racing.
In 1946, the state got its first horse racing pari-mutuel racetrack, Portland Meadows, which operated at its original location until 2019, when the track was closed. Portland Meadows is still in operation at a new location but no longer have live racing, although they do offer off-track betting and a poker room. Oregon is down to a single track now, Grant’s Pass Downs, which offers a few races in the summer.
In 1971, Oregon got its feet wet with charitable gambling when it started to allow casino nights, where non-profit organizations would provide casino games such as blackjack, roulette, and craps, for non-cash prizes. Charity bingo and raffles, involving real money, came along in 1976 after a statewide amendment authorized it.
This also opened the door for social gambling, and social gambling is plenty big in Oregon, as the state also decided to not only allow it in private but in public as well provided that the hosts did not make a profit from the gambling directly.
Oregon waited until 1984 to roll out a state lottery, and while Oregon is one of the most liberal states in the country overall, they tend to be a little more conservative than their reputation when it comes to gambling. The fact that they needed a referendum for church bingo is testimony to this, as well as their getting the lottery later than many of the actual progressive states.
1988 brought the Indian Gaming Act, which permitted federally recognized tribes to offer real money gambling on their tribal lands. This was a time when there was considerable uncertainty about how hard states would fight back in court, and even though this federal law did clearly convey this right to Indian tribes, states could still bring actions against the tribes to at delay and dissuade their entries into this market, and in come cases try to use previous treaties and other agreements to impede them.
2 of Oregon’s 9 tribes did choose to get their feet wet with offering bingo in 1991, seen as less objectionable to states than casino gambling. The Cow Creek band reached a compact with the state of Oregon in 1993, offering slots and blackjack, and by 1996, all of Oregon’s tribes had a compact with the state in place. There are currently 9 tribal casinos in the state, with another 2 planned.
Oregon’s tribes are located in lesser populated areas of the state, and have been lobbying since 1999 to be allowed to build off-reservation casinos in the Portland area to better tap into the 2.5 million people that live there, over half the people in the state. After several unsuccessful attempts, the last in 2006, this has been put on hold until the state opens up its mind to this more.
While many states have been scrambling lately to pass sports betting bills after a 1992 federal law that sought to prevent states from doing this was recently deemed unconstitutional, Oregon was one of 4 states that was exempted from this law, due to Oregon already having legal sports gambling at the time the bill was passed.
The Oregon Lottery started offering lottery-style sports betting in 1989, which wasn’t exactly traditional sports betting but did allow for players to select combinations with the usual heavy house advantage that lotteries offer. It was discontinued in 2007 as a requirement for the state holding an NCAA tournament, but Oregon jumped back in with both feet this time in 2019 and now offer real sportsbook which offers online wagering through the Oregon Lottery app.
Along the way, Oregon’s permissive social gambling laws see the state host 16 poker rooms to go along with their 9 Indian casinos, a pari-mutuel racetrack, their state-run lottery and sportsbook, home games, and charitable gaming. Oregon is still very much against commercial casinos, but they have a good selection of everything else when it comes to gambling.
Oregon Gambling Laws
Oregon gambling law in its raw form, without the many exclusions, starts out by prohibiting staking or risking anything of value “on the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event” not under the person’s control or influence.
This is generally viewed as prohibiting wagering of any kind other than your betting on yourself in a contest of skill, and some states have similar sounding laws, but Oregon left out one important part, what a contest of chance would be.
Playing roulette is a contest of chance, as this game is pure chance, but there are other casino games that involve elements of skill as well, like various forms of casino poker, blackjack, pai gow, and so on. Poker played against other players instead of the house are even more skill-based, and you can’t play a hand of poker without at least some skill.
Normally, if states want to ban all games involving elements of chance, they would exclude games that depend on chance in part as well as in whole, and without this included, this leaves open how particular games are to be understood. It is particularly difficult to view poker as a game of chance, given that skill plays such a prominent role.
We are left to guess at the meaning of contests of chance in Oregon, although the second part, betting on contingent events not under one’s control or influence, does clearly include betting on sporting contests or other contingent events that we do not participate in. This may not exclude betting on elections though provided that the person betting actually voted, as this would bring the results under their sphere of influence, however small.
You can’t influence the result of sporting contests though if you aren’t involved in the game itself, so sports betting as well as pure games of chance are out. Other casino games involving the use of nominal strategies would probably be seen by a judge as a game of chance given that the skill level cannot really overcome the chance that you will lose, but poker is a completely different animal and it’s very hard to argue that it is just a game of chance.
Oregon law contains several exclusions, the usual ones like securities trading and buying insurance, even though both are within our sphere of influence. They also allow gambling that does not involve playing for money but for merchandise, which either has to be consumed on the premises our outside a 50-mile radius of the establishment where the betting occurred.
Aside from charitable gambling, pari-mutuel wagering, and playing the state lottery, Oregon also permits social gambling, where there is no house player and only the players benefit financially. This activity being permitted is normally confined to social gambling games in private, and while Oregon allows that as well, they also allow social gambling to be offered in “a private business, private club or place of public accommodation.”
Whether or not poker is against the law or not therefore does not matter if you are playing it without a rake or table charge either at home or at an establishment that offers it because in these cases, it is explicitly legal. This has led to 20 poker rooms popping up in the state, which offer poker saloon style, only today’s poker saloons are much more organized, with scheduled tournaments and even reward programs.
Oregon defining gambling as “staking or risking” something of value does define the act in question as occurring in the state, rather than focusing on the playing of certain games that may or may not be seen to be played in Oregon when playing these games on the internet. Whatever is illegal to play in the physical ream in Oregon would therefore also be illegal for identical reasons online under state law.
Any gambling specifically authorized by the state takes precedence over the state’s criminal prohibitions, and this is how Oregon can offer online sports betting these days in spite of this being wagering on a contingent event without influence on it. Tribes are allowed to offer gambling based upon treaties called compacts which the Indians agree to certain conditions to be left alone by the state.
Land-Based Gambling in Oregon
Gambling in Oregon started with pari-mutuel wagering, although both of its historical tracks are now closed, and the state is down to occasional summertime racing at Grant’s Pass Downs. This industry did well when it was the only game in town, but as the gambling options increased in the state, they eventually got put in a position where they could no longer get enough revenue to keep these operations viable.
Portland Meadows offers both off-track wagering and a poker room, where Grant’s Pass does have some real horse racing along with betting on other races at the track as well as an off-track betting app. Off-track betting is also available at 9 other locations in the state.
The Oregon Lottery offers a number of traditional jackpot lottery games including Mega Millions and Powerball. They also offer scratch tickets, keno, and video lottery machines, which are basically slot machines branded under the Oregon Lottery, offering 60 different slot games on one machine.
The Oregon Lottery also operates an online sports book where you can bet on a variety of sporting contests. They work with leading sports books with competitive odds to look to persuade those who are already betting on offshore sportsbooks to come over and bet on sports with a wider variety of deposit options.
The last time they tried to get a bill passed in Oregon to permit commercial casinos, Oregonians voted 70 to 30 against it. This is not quite the liberal state that many believe, at least as far as gambling goes, although it was the third state in the country to legalize marijuana. There’s a lot more states that have commercial casinos than legal marijuana shops, so being so against casinos is on the peculiar side, especially since they have poker rooms and Indian casinos already.
Washington already beat Oregon to the punch when it comes to having a casino in the Portland area, only 25 miles drive away across the state line. The Ilani casino was built specifically to cater to Portland residents and it’s an impressive venue that has won the award for the best casino in the Northwest 4 years running. This is a huge casino with all the amenities, and they are planning another big expansion as they feast off of Portland’s huge market.
Oregon just doesn’t have any Indian tribes in that close of a proximity to the state’s biggest city and are not of the same size and appeal as the Ilani. There are 9 Indian casinos in operation in Oregon, well distributed geographically in the state but not so well distributed population-wise.
Oregon tribal casinos are given the entire menu of casino games to choose from, including slots, various forms of blackjack, roulette, craps, mini baccarat, Big Wheel, casino war, and a number of casino poker games.
The Mill Casino Hotel and RV Park in North Bend has 734 slots, 13 table games, 5 restaurants, a 203 room hotel, and an RV park. The Three Rivers Casino in Coos Bay has 250 slots, a café, and a gift shop. The Seven Feathers Casino Resort in Canyonville features 900 slot machines, 26 table games, bingo, keno, a 311 room hotel, 6 restaurants, a convention center, and an RV park.
The Indian Head Casino in Warm Springs has 500 slots, 8 blackjack tables, a restaurant, and a lounge. The Kla-Mo-Ya Casino in Chiloquin has 300 slots, blackjack, a 76 room hotel, a restaurant, and a bar. The Three Rivers Casino Resort in Florence features 700 slots, 14 table games, bingo, keno, a 93 room hotel with 6 suites, 4 restaurants, a lounge, and a 700 seat concert venue.
The Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City has 1.162 slot machines, 33 table games, a sports betting lounge, bingo, keno, poker, a 227 room hotel, 5 restaurants and a lounge. Part of the tribe’s compact with the state allows them to offer whatever games the Oregon Lottery offers, which is how they came into their sports betting operation.
The Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde has 2,000 slots, 18 blackjack tables, 4 roulette tables, 3 craps tables, along with pai gow, let it ride, 3 card poker, and Spanish 21. They also have a 17 table poker room, the biggest poker room in the state, along with bingo and keno, a 254 room hotel, 2 restaurants, a sports bar, and a lounge.
The Wildhorse Resort and Casino in Pendleton has 1,200 slot machines, 16 table games, a poker area, bingo, keno, 6 restaurants, a sports bar, a 5 screen movie theater complex, a FunPlex, and a 24 hour bowling center. There are two more Indian casinos that are planned, with both seeking final federal approval.
In addition to the live real money poker offered at 4 of Oregon’s tribal casinos and the one at Portland Meadows, there are 16 other small poker rooms in the state that operate under Oregon’s social gaming laws, although with the game of poker it’s best that there is no rake or fees and Oregon’s laws allow for home style poker games in commercial locations.
In spite of Oregon’s having a decent amount of casinos, their being distributed by way of historical tribal lands over population distribution remains an impediment to Oregon’s land-based casino market. This is not lost on Oregonians, and it not a problem unique to Oregon, due to the artificial nature of confining casinos to the more sparsely populated areas where tribal lands tend to be located.
The building of the controversial Ilani Casino Resort just across the border from Portland in Washington State has made a real difference, but this market still remains underserved and the push continues to seek to build more casinos in the area.
Oregon Online Casinos & Slots Gambling
Oregon is well ahead of most states as far as online gambling goes, given that they actually have regulated online gambling in the state, given that most states have yet to approve it yet. With Oregon, they not only license and regulate online sports betting, the state themselves offer it through the Oregon Lottery.
If you are looking for government regulated online banking, it doesn’t get any more regulated than the government themselves playing the role of bookie, rather than serving as an intermediary with licensed online gambling operators.
What makes Oregon’s online sports betting so attractive is that they offer competitive odds on sporting contests, instead of the usual way that lotteries offer sports betting, by way of some sort of parlay scheme that have the house edge much higher than a real sports book would offer.
Having the state handle your sports betting action would also presumably avoid issues where a sportsbook might refuse your action if you are a sharp bettor. With some sports betting operations, they are happy enough with you if you lose but may treat you like casinos treat card counters in blackjack if you are profitable enough.
There are sports books that don’t care about this because they will balance their action properly, where they don’t care who wins as they get to keep the spread, but some actively will take positions in games and these sites take the other side of your bets and don’t like you beating them over time. It is hard to imagine the Oregon Lottery turning you away because you are a winning bettor on balance though.
Oregon is open enough to poker playing that they allow it to be played at commercial establishments, but real money online poker isn’t on their list of licensed online products, nor is real money online casino action apart from the slots that the Oregon Lottery operates. The state has to both warm up to casinos and look away from their own stake with these slots efore they ever start opening things up, and it’s hard enough for the Indians to get approval for off-reservation casinos, which are not allowed on Oregon yet.
Sports betting has really come into fashion around the country these days, and what really turned things around is the striking down of a federal law prohibiting states from regulating it, although Oregon wasn’t on the list of these states. When that law got struck down, Oregon got involved in a real sports betting operation, with the assistance of leading sportsbooks, but this does seem to be all that Oregon has an appetite for as far as allowing real money online gambling goes.
Future of Gambling in Oregon
The biggest thing on the table is Oregon’s easing up on their reluctance to permit commercial casino gambling beyond their own. For a state that offers its own online sports betting operation, they actually aren’t that open to other commercial gambling operations, and even still try to push back Indian tribes from further expanding their operations on their own land.
Even when a Washington Indian tribe threatened to build a casino right across the state line to put it within a short drive of over half the state’s population, Oregon remained firm in their opposition to a casino being built in the Portland area on their side of the state line, and they remain opposed even after this big casino was built and continues to expand, seeing a lot of money blow their way across the state line.
Expanding land-based casinos in the Portland area and expanding the state’s reach as far as real money online gambling goes remains the state’s two biggest opportunity areas. If not for their 9 tribal casinos, with 2 more in the works, there would be no legal casino gambling in Oregon at all beyond what the lottery offers. They take a more favorable view of poker, although it’s not the fact that they allow non-commercial poker that is the issue, as poker just happens to be a game that can be played without the house involved, and casino games generally involve a house.
Should the appetite be there, current Oregon law would permit other non-banked gambling games to be offered in public establishments, things like blackjack tournaments or other games played with cards where all of the prize money goes to the participants.
You can’t have roulette or craps tournaments though because they do need to be banked, and although you could theoretically set up tournaments for these, nobody runs these sort of tournaments and people prefer contests where it doesn’t just come down to luck.
Getting actual commercial card rooms in the state might be the next logical step, but it’s the commercial part that the state objects to, and only the lottery and pari-mutuel horse race tracks escape this net. The poker rooms in Oregon are very small and there’s the potential for California style card rooms in Portland to be built of a much bigger size should they allow poker room operators to make money on the gaming as well as the drinks, with the state getting a cut.
Gambling online would not qualify for the state’s exemption for social gambling, as there is a house on the other side of your internet connection and social gambling can only involve players having a financial interest in the gambling. It then comes down to whether the games themselves are included in the law.
There are some serious questions about whether or not it would be legal or not to play online poker though, and we’d have to view it as a game of chance for this to be the case, but casino games are games of chance and this would be against the law, although it doesn’t really matter whether online gambling is legal or illegal in a state as it turns out.
You can’t enforce gambling laws with online gambling, and they could threaten punishment for getting caught doing this but it wouldn’t be a meaningful sanction of there isn’t a way to catch you. The only way this could happen is if someone went to the police station and turned themselves in, and no one is about to do that, and they would probably just laugh at you and send you home anyway.
Beyond that, your online activities playing real money gambling games on the internet is simply outside the view of Oregon authorities or any authorities, and the only people that know about your play is you and your chosen offshore sites, and they aren’t about to tell on you, nor do they care about what the law may say about this in Oregon as they aren’t located there. This places you in the clear to do it if you wish, and if you do, we can show you the best places to go.
Oregon Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
How long has Oregon had legal gambling?
Legal commercial gambling first came to Oregon in 1933, although people could always gamble among themselves, which is still the case today. This was the year that Oregon legalized pari-mutuel racing, and also set up a racing commission to regulate it. It has been in operation in Oregon ever since, although the industry is barely clinging to life and Oregon is down to just a few races a year in the whole state these days.
What does Oregon’s gambling law prohibit?
Oregon makes it a crime to bet on a game of chance or a contingent event not under your control or influence. Being under your control or influence is an easy enough requirement to understand and apply, as something is one or the other based upon the facts. What a game of chance is to be understood to consist of is more problematic given that there are games that are only partly games of chance, distinct from the full version the law suggests.
What gambling options are available in Oregon?
The Oregon Lottery is at the heart of Oregon’s non-tribal gambling scene. Lotteries do not usually dominate like this, with all manners of lottery games as well as slot machines and online sports betting, but this lottery has virtually cornered the commercial gambling market, with only a single pari-mutuel racetrack left. There are also 9 tribal casinos in the state, as well as 16 small poker rooms.
How well located are Oregon’s Indian casinos in the state?
It is not unusual for Indian casinos to be in more out of the way parts of the state, away from the larger population, but this problem stands out more than usual in Oregon, with so much of their population in the Portland area and no tribal casinos that nearby. This did create a void that a tribe across the state line from Portland helped fill, with great success. Even with this, there is still a need for more casinos in this area.
What is behind Oregon’s apparent reluctance towards various forms of gambling?
It might appear, given the lack of commercial casinos and lack of online poker and casino regulation, that Oregon has a long way to go in order to be truly progressive toward certain types of gambling, but it turns out that Oregon has no problem with any form of gambling. They run a sportsbook and a lottery, allow poker, and operate a network of slot machines. They are more likely protecting their market.
Is it against the law to gamble online in Oregon?
Some might consider gambling by yourself online as being similar to social gambling, which is legal in Oregon, but Oregon’s social gambling exemption only covers gambling without a third party cut, and online gambling does involve this. It then comes down to whether the game being played is legal or not, as games of chance are not. Casino games are generally games of chance but whether poker is or not is up for debate here.
What real money online gambling options does Oregon offer?
Oregon has gone all in with online sports betting now by having the Oregon Lottery offer a sportsbook that they brand themselves and offer the management and odds of a top online sportsbook. States tend to be more motivated to get involved in online gambling if they are operating these sites themselves, and this gives states the ultimate in control over the gaming. This is a great idea that more states should consider.
What is holding Oregon back from expanding their gambling scene?
Oregon can’t have much of a problem with at least slots, given that their lottery has so many of them, even though they have resisted attempts at others under their jurisdiction being allowed to offer them as well, including their racetracks wishing to become racinos. The state’s 9 Indian casinos aren’t under their jurisdiction though, but among those who are, the state prefers to keep the whole operation to themselves.
What are the prospects of Oregon gambling opening up more soon?
It wouldn’t seem like much of a step up for the Oregon Lottery to decide to offer online versions of their so-called lottery terminals. They could even still call them lottery terminals if they wanted to avoid being called something else. Oregon needs to open their minds up to regulating others, and running the show from afar instead of directly. Until then, it becomes a matter of their expanding their own operation, which is a real possibility.
Can Oregonians gamble online at real money poker and casino games?
Oregon does not provide any options for real money online poker and real money online casino games as of yet. Many Oregonians choose to gamble online anyway, at offshore online sites that take players from Oregon. Depending on the game you are playing and how Oregon law may be interpreted to apply to it, this may or may not be legal, but it’s not something that is enforceable anyway and many just choose to play anyway.