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Oregon Audit: Lottery Policies Have Allowed De Facto Casinos

Oegon Lottery

A new report Thursday from the Oregon Secretary of State says lax enforcement has allowed hundreds of de facto casinos across the state. Non-tribal casinos are banned by the state constitution.

About 20 percent of the state's video lottery income comes from so-called "Limited Menu Retailers." They're pretty much what the name suggests: A restaurant with not much to sell but with plenty of ways to spend your money.

I stopped by one in Salem to try my luck. I quickly lost 10 dollars but they gave me a free soda for my trouble. And in fact the audit suggests many of these places give away food and drinks to entice gamblers. Then they report those giveaways as sales in order to make it look as though they're basically a restaurant with a few video lottery terminals on the side.

In a response, Oregon Lottery officials said they agree that state policy-makers should come up with a "clear and enforceable definition of a casino."

But director Jack Roberts notes that a reduction in video lottery sales means a reduction in funding for schools, parks and economic development.