Sports betting is a multibillion dollar business. That’s not going away.
So the state of Oregon’s launch of its own sports betting through the Oregon Lottery makes sense. People over the age of 21 can now legally bet through a smartphone app.
Yes, sports betting can create serious personal, family and societal problems. If it is going to exist, it’s better that the state puts some legal safeguards in place, protecting customers.
But it would be better still if the state would be transparent about its relationship with its lottery contractor, SBTech. Oregon sports betting should come out of the shadows.
SBTech is headquartered in the Isle of Man. The subsidiary that won the Oregon contract is registered in Malta. Many of the company employees actually work in Bulgaria.
Beyond that, there are some critical pieces of information missing.
Oregon Lottery officials refused to release a background investigation of SBTech by Oregon State Police. Officials did release a summary of the investigation. That’s not the same thing. Lottery officials had even chosen to award the contract to SBTech before completing the investigation. To be fair, they could have backed out if the investigation found something untoward. Oregonians may never know if they found anything suspicious.
Oregon Lottery officials also refused to release the lottery’s contract with SBTech. It allowed SBTech to black out large portions of its contract before releasing it to The Oregonian. SBTech blacked out most everything having to do with how it would be paid — even the definitions of things like revenues and fees.
Other states also use SBTech, including Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and Pennsylvania. There’s some comfort in that. There’d be even more comfort, though, if the Oregon Lottery trusted Oregonians enough to be open about its relationship with its lottery contractor.
Lottery officials are essentially telling Oregonians: Never mind. The financial relationship in a deal worth millions doesn’t matter. That’s good enough for Gov. Kate Brown? That’s good enough for Oregon legislators? Is it good enough for you?