Oregon Lottery says Portland poker room is illegal

According to the Oregon Lottery, the Portland Meadows racetrack’s poker room constitutes "illegal gambling."  The decision was passed down late last month following an investigation of the poker room that began last year.  The racetrack disagrees and is planning an appeal.

Lottery officials went after the racetrack last year, sending investigators with the Oregon State Police to the track to review the poker operations.  The investigation revealed that poker organizers were charging admission and acting as a bank for the players, which, according to the Oregon Lottery, violates the law.  Subsequent, the agency revoked the racetrack’s contract for video lottery terminals in June of last year. 

After filing a petition for a hearing, Oregon Lottery Director Barry Pack listened to arguments this past March.  However, he upheld the ruling, stating that the door charge paid by players to enter is considered illegal "house income," and that the racetrack’s cash-to-chips exchange is defined as a bank, which is also illegal.

The ban is a huge blow to the racetrack.  Portland Meadows has ten video poker terminals which generated $1.83 million in revenue for the state in 2016.  Of that, the racetrack earned $350,000 in commissions.  The track will appeal the decision through the Oregon Court of Appeals, but no word has been released yet on when the case might be heard. 

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