Oregon Poker & Gambling Laws

Oregon Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in Oregon?

Oregon gambling laws allow for a number of different gaming interests in the state, including 9 Native American casinos, 5 race tracks, and 1 racino. Oregon lawmakers even allow certain other interests limited gaming rights, including "Hotel Casinos" given the right to host iGaming lounges in their hotel areas. The Oregon Lottery is a thriving business in the state, while several regulatory authorities work to assure non-Native vendors receive full licensing rights and responsibilities.

I'll dissect the Oregon gaming statutes by looking at these various gambling authorities inside the state. For a mid-sized state, Oregon has a fairly sizable gambling industry. This tends to be the case with many of the western US states, which were settled by people who went west to the frontier. Therefore, the western states are known for having a certain libertarian stance towards most laws.

Oregon's Poker Laws

What's the deal with playing poker for real money under Oregon state law? Answering that question requires us to first determine whether or not Oregon law considers poker to be gambling.

Oregon uses the same basic definition of gambling as Alabama and Alaska, meaning that gambling (as defined in Section 167.117 of Oregon code) occurs when you risk something valuable on a "contest of chance" or an event that you can't control or influence. Unlike some other states (North Carolina, for example), Oregon does provide additional guidance regarding "contest of chance." In the same section (167.117), a contest of chance is defined as an activity where chance determines the outcome to a "material degree."

It's generally accepted that chance players a substantial role in poker. Skill plays a critical role as well, but the convention in modern American law has been to regard poker as a game where chance does have a "material" impact on the outcome. Hence, poker is likely gambling under Oregon law.

That means poker is subject to the restrictions put forth in Oregon gambling law. The good news for poker players is that Oregon law has more to say about poker. Specifically, the section covering "social games" (refer to subsection 21 of Section 167.117) creates an exception for games that take place between players, and allows those games to be conducted in the home, private business and in other commercial settings. That exception has given rise to the state's booming slate of card clubs like the Encore Club and Aces Player Club.

Tribal casinos are also authorized to offer real-money poker games in Oregon, and you can find a variety of formats, stakes and games at the Chinook Winds Poker Room and Spirit Mountain Casino, to name just two.
Finally, poker tournaments - specifically Texas Hold'em tournaments - are permitted under the state's charitable gambling guidelines. State regulations limit the maximum buyin to $200, including all addons and rebuys.

Oregon Horse Racing Laws

The Oregon State Racing Commission oversees all horse track betting, off track betting, and pari-mutuel wagers throughout the state of Oregon. The commission meets every 3rd Thursday of the month in the Portland State Office Building. This committee's main job is to oversees the Portland Meadows Racetrack facility off Interstate 5 in Portland. The track has been in operation since 1946 and is home to "Turf Club 7", which offers simulcasts and offtrack bets to its gambling clientele.

The five Oregon horse tracks are the Harney County Fairgrounds in Burns, the Josephin County Fairgrounds at Grants Pass, the Crook County Fairgrounds at Prineville, the Tillamook County Fairgrounds at Tillamook, and the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show Grounds at Union, Oregon.

Portland Meadows in Portland is the only racino in the state. Racinos combine the pari-mutuel wagers and off-track betting of the traditional horse tracks with aspects of a casino, specifically the gaming machines. For instance, PortLand Meadows has 10 video lottery terminals, but also offers a Daily Double, Exacta, Pick 3, Quinella, Superfecta, and Trifecta. Their live thoroughbred racing takes place from the middle of October to the end of April, usually on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Oregon Lottery and Tribal Gaming Laws

The Vendor Investigations Unit of the Oregon State Police oversee the Tribal-State compact regulations and oversees lottery contracts in the state. These investigations in the vendor include the background, character, competence, and integrity of the supposed owner of the gambling sales venue. This includes vendors who wish to do business with the Tribal Gaming Casinos of the Compacted Tribes. The Oregon State Lottery works with the Vendor Investigations Unit on their part of the gambling industry in Oregon.

Nine different Indian tribes have their own casinos in Oregon. These casino establishments are found in Burns, Canyonville, Chiloquin, Florence, Grande Ronde, Lincoln City, North Bend, Pendleton, and Warm Springs. Tribes with casinos include the Chinook, Spirit Mountain Indians, Kla-Mo-Ya, and Seven Feathers.

Those with questions pertaining to the lottery laws or tribal gaming laws in Oregon should call 503-540-1435 or send an appropriate email to phillip.s.dodd@state.or.us. You can also learn more about the lottery statutes below.

Learn About Other State Laws

State Lottery Legal in Oregon

The Oregon Lottery Corporation is offers the Oregon Megabucks lottery. Other lotto games available include Pick 4, Lucky Lines, the Win for Life Lotto, Keno cards, and the annual St. Patrick's Day Raffle. Oregon is also a member of the Powerball and Mega Million multi-state lotteries, so the gambling laws allow a wide range of lottery playing in Oregon.

One thing the Oregon state laws take a dim view are the "gray machines", so-named because they were illegal, yet widespread, indicating acceptance on the part of the Oregonian people. As Portland Monthly states it, "Oregon Gambling is an Ancient Tradition". I'm not sure if they're using the word "ancient" in its traditional sense, but I think that gets the point across. In 1991, the state of Oregon seized around 10,000 gray machines, which are defined as illegal video poker and slot machines. These day, those machines account for about 80% of the revenue made under Oregon lottery laws. This money goes to economic development, exploration of natural resources in Oregon, and public education.

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