The state of Oregon has a long relationship with the practices of real money gaming and wagering. The first form of real money activity to be fully legalized across the state was pari-mutuel betting on organized horse races almost a century ago, in 1940.
Three decades later, numerous casinos began to spring up across the state as Oregon lawmakers officially licensed “casino night” games like roulette and blackjack, provided they were played for “charitable” purposes.
By 1976, the residents of Oregon’s appetite for gaming grew, and a law change was introduced that brought about the legalization of bingo, lotteries, and raffles.
Here and now in the digital age, that appetite for real money gaming is just as strong in Oregon’s residents. Betting on horse races has naturally expanded to include major league sports and plenty of other sporting and competitive events, while the way people place their wagers has become increasingly more digitalized, particularly thanks to the advent of the connected smartphone.
In 2020, however, a new iGaming craze emerged that is currently sweeping the state – virtual sports betting.
The iGaming Landscape in the US
As one of only a handful of states with approval to run online licensed sports betting platforms, the Beaver State plays a significant role in sustaining the newly resurgent iGaming industry in the US. It’s only been a couple of years since online real money gaming made a triumphant return to the US, with states like New Jersey being granted licenses to operate full casino gaming and betting platforms.
While Oregon has no plans yet to legislate online poker within the state, the vertical has had a stellar performance in the four US states where it is legal. In particular, Pennsylvania has seen the emergence of new revenue records from its online poker sector, with thousands of players having signed up for everything from freeroll poker tournaments to championship events throughout 2020.
iGaming in Oregon in 2020
Earlier this year, Oregon became one of the first states in the country to allow remote betting on virtual sports. Virtual sports have been a fringe global interest for a while now, but in mid-March, they began to emerge in the US as a strong alternative to live sporting events.
These contests use a random number generator – much like the ones that power online casino platforms – to assign odds and determine a winner of a sports event or match, such as horse racing, football, and soccer, motor car racing, basketball, etc.
While they still have their detractors, the potential of virtual sports as a 21st-century form of entertainment was solidified with the Virtual Kentucky Derby Triple Showdown, which pulled in a total audience of 1.7 million viewers as it aired on NBC.
A temporary administrative order was granted from the Oregon State Lottery that stated online wagering activities could still take place, continuing to engage and entertaining the gaming public and ensuring that the newly emergent iBetting market would be protected while live sports events were temporarily suspended.
As we approach the end of the year, there’s been a push to make virtual sports betting a permanent addition to Oregon’s iGaming roster. This is particularly significant timing since entertainment giants Verizon Media have just announced a partnership with Entain to develop brand new and immersive live sports experiences.
These events will incorporate elements of Virtual Reality to place fans directly in stadiums and racetracks, allowing them to meet up with friends and fellow fans whilst placing their bets virtually in real-time.
Should a long-term license be granted, this will be one of the most impactful developments in the Oregon iGaming sector since online platforms were first re-licensed. It would also set a blueprint for other states to become involved in the exciting, future-proofed world of virtual sports.