Oregon Lottery and Portland Meadows Poker Room Legality Issues Continue

The city of Portland continues to be involved in a battle based on commercial poker legality. Portland Meadows and the Oregon Lottery continue to fight over the racetrack’s ability to host the top poker room in the region and offer lottery retail options. The Lottery believes that the poker games being hosted by Portland Meadows are violating the gaming law of the state.

Back in July, the Oregon Lottery decided to cancel their retail contract with Portland Meadows. The venue was offering 10 video lottery terminals. The removal of the machines was based on the fact that the lottery feels the venue is in violation of state gaming law. Poker rooms in Portland, Oregon, including the Portland Meadows, do not take a rake during poker games. A cover fee is charged instead and money is made based on the sale of beverages and food. According to the Willamette Week, the Lottery says that this does not make the business a legal one.

At the end of August, the Lottery wrote a letter that stated they do not agree with the interperation of the state laws concerning gaming by the Portland Meadows. The Lottery stated that the cover fee is in violation of the ‘house income’ rule and the poker room is holding on to the prize pool of poker tournaments which is acting as a ‘house bank’ which is illegal.

Poker rooms argue that cover fees do not count as income from the operation of poker games. Portland has allowed such games to continue even though concerns have been made known, including how dealer are paid for their work.

Currently, the Oregon Lottery is giving the Portland Meadows one more month to come to a solution. Without the lottery terminals, the venue could lose a great deal of money. The 2016 commissions from their contract with the lottery yielded the Portland Meadows around $350,000. Portland Meadows has until October 30th to stop violating state laws according to the Lottery, appeal the cancellation within state court or choose to give up their contract with the Lottery.

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