Oregon Online Poker Laws

Oregon Online Poker Law

Oregon may be one of the best states for poker consumers in the nation thanks to an abundance of places to play live poker, from Indian casinos to local poker-only establishments that exist outside of the casino industry.

Only time will tell if lawmakers will move on an online poker bill, or if one will even ever be introduced. As it stands at the end of 2013, there are no online poker bills in the legislative pipeline, nor any serious discussion about online poker in Oregon.

In fact, Oregon has a law on its books that makes it a felony to take wagers through the Internet. This would have to be amended in order before any type of online poker legalization comes to Oregon.

Oregon is home to several dozen card rooms that are allowed to exist because of a “social gaming” clause introduced in the 1990s. These rooms are not allowed to charge rake or tournaments fees. They make a profit through food sales and a small fee to get in the door (usually no more than $20).

Oregon’s poker players and non-casino card-room operators faced a challenge in 2013, when several lawmakers came out against the poker rooms, arguing that the law isn’t being followed as it was intended. A bill was proposed that would restrict live poker games outside of casinos to church fundraisers, Elks recruitment meetings, or any other type of one-off social event designed to raise money for approved organizations.

The bipartisan sponsors of the bill publicly said they were sick of the card rooms flaunting the loophole and worried about their communities, but in reality they were surely responding from pressure from the Indian casinos.

An interesting thing happened when the players were faced with losing their neighborhood game — they rallied. They wrote letters to the editor, they testified in front of lawmakers against the bill, they made their voices known through Oregon media — and they won. The bill was defeated, and the rooms will continue to operate for as long as people play poker in Oregon.

Two bits of information could be taken from this mini-battle. The Indian casinos have a strong voice in Oregon’s government, and Oregon poker players are willing to fight for their game.

There are 10 Indian casinos in Oregon and they have shown that they are savvy when it comes to protecting their casinos’ turf by hiring lobbyists to fight against expanding gambling there. They failed in trying to stun out the social card rooms, but be sure they will use the defeat as a springboard to begin online poker discussions.

When Will I Get to Play Online Poker in Oregon?

Look to 2014 for the Indian casinos to begin to push for online poker and gambling. Online poker legislation has a better chance if it faces lawmakers without online casino gambling legislation weighing it down. California is about to approve online poker most likely in 2014, so look for that to influence both lawmakers and casino officials. Online poker just might come to Oregon by 2015.