Millions ready to bet on NFL, just not quite yet in Oregon

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State won't rush to deliver mobile sports betting app in time for first NFL Sunday

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The 2019 NFL season kicks off Thursday night and according to a brand new study, millions of Americans will line up to place their bets on the games.

People in Oregon are going to have to wait a little longer.

The American Gambling Association says that 38 million adults, an estimated 15% of the population, are expected to place a legal bet this pro football season.

Oversight of legal sports betting in Oregon is handled by the Oregon Lottery. They told KOIN 6 News in early August they intended to release a mobile app, called Scoreboard, in time for the first Sunday of the NFL season. That is Sunday, Sept. 8. Retail kiosks will follow in the coming months.

Three weeks later, lottery officials announced they weren’t going to be ready.

Wednesday, KOIN 6 talked to officials at the lottery about the reasons for the delay and to find out when Oregonians will be able to place legal bets on NFL games.

It comes down to testing the mobile app and making sure it is working with eCommerce systems the Oregon Lottery already has in place.

“At the end of the day, we wanted to make sure we get this right,” said Matt Shelby, the Public Information Manager for the Oregon Lottery. “We would rather get it right than rush to get it out and having to pull it to fix it.”

Shelby tells KOIN 6 that the mobile app, designed by SBTech, works well. Still, officials want to make sure that the app will appropriately handle things like correctly taxing winnings and withholding court-ordered payments like child support.

“We want to make sure it works the way our existing lottery games do,” Shelby said.

Following a staff meeting last Friday, Oregon Lottery officials made the decision to hold off on the launch until late September or early October.

Once the mobile app is up and running, and retail kiosks follow, it is estimated that Oregonians are going to bet big. Lottery officials expect $300 million to be wagered in the first year. Only a small percentage of that will go to the state.

“A vast majority of the money goes back to the players,” Shelby said. He added that officials expect sports gambling to raise revenue in the “tens of millions” of dollars for the state, but didn’t put an exact number on it.

“We have projections based on what we’ve seen in other states that have legalized sports betting,” he said. “We’ve never had a full sports book available. We are as excited as anybody else in the state to see how players in Oregon react.”

When it goes live, the Scoreboard app will eventually allow gambling on the NFL, National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer and other professional sports. Gambling on college sports won’t be allowed in Oregon for now. Like any other gambling in Oregon, players must be 21 and must physically be in Oregon to place bets.

By law, the revenue from sports gambling in Oregon will go to covering retirement costs for state employees. SBTech will also get a cut of the money raised.

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