Published: January 7, 2019

Oregon Lottery revenue grows 10 percent, looks to add sports betting

The Oregon Lottery's revenues continued to soar in 2018, reflecting the state's investment in video lottery machines and increased interest in playing Mega Millions. 

The lottery's growth is such that it's intertwined itself into Oregon's budget planning that rises above $1 billion each two-year budget cycle. State bonds for projects are issued based on expected lottery revenues. State parks, education and economic development all get a cut. 

The growth is only expected to continue, as Oregon lays the groundwork for sports betting. 

In fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30, the state lottery funneled $726 million into the fund that pays for projects across the state. That's up nearly 10 percent — a $63.6 million increase — from $662.6 million in 2017, an analysis of state data shows. 

The state's vast network of about 12,000 video lottery terminals played at restaurants, bars and elsewhere was upgraded during the last couple years. The move that signals the state's reliance on the machines for revenues in the long-term future. 

"That's the lottery product that does the heavy lifting," said Chuck Baumann, a spokesman for the lottery. 

Video lottery money provided 88 percent of the $726 million that went into schools, parks and economic development throughout Oregon. 

Several years ago, Oregon's video system was showing its age.

"We had video lottery terminals that for all intents and purposes they were obsolete," he said. "We couldn't get parts for them."

With the upgrade, the state now can remotely add new features and games without sending technicians to physically travel to terminals. 

"It creates a situation where we're far more nimble with the ability to offer new games to folks," Baumann said.

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