Illegal casinos in Oregon?

State audit reveals lottery delis could be running afoul the state constitution.

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A state audit has revealed that lottery delis could be running afoul the state constitution’s prohibition of casinos.

The outposts help the Oregon Lottery profit and are quite lucrative, according to the report.

So-called “limited menu” purveyors — which pair wall-to-wall video gambling with cigarettes and bare-bones food options such as microwave burritos — have been free to flout state rules meant to keep retailers from earning more than half their sales from gambling, the audit found.

What’s more, that’s the case even though lottery regulators insist they specifically target those retailers for extra scrutiny, the report said.

“It’s clear what they are. They are gambling casinos,” said former Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, one of the Legislature’s loudest champions for lottery reform until she retired in 2013. “It was never the intent of the public to have little casinos all over the state. It’s immoral.”


Casinos have been illegal since 1994, and are defined as businesses that are primarily used for gambling.

Jack Roberts, executive director of the Oregon State Lottery, said he agreed with auditors’ recommendation to “develop a more clear and enforceable definition of a casino.”

However, Roberts said it’s too time-consuming and burdensome for lottery officials to be analyzing lottery retailers’ financial records to determine compliance with the state’s casino prohibition. “Going forward,” Roberts wrote in his formal response to the audit, “we hope to rely less upon a strict arithmetical calculation of lottery versus non-lottery income for these establishments and more upon the totality of circumstances indicating whether or not a lottery retailer is operating a “casino” and, beyond that, whether it is operated in accordance with the Oregon Lottery’s standards for a retailer offering our games.”

(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)


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