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Oregon Had Sports Betting Permission Before Supreme Court Ruling

File photo. From 1989 to 2007 the Oregon Lottery allowed gambling on NFL results in program known as Sports Action.

Gamblers throughout the country got good news Monday, as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that banned sports betting in most states. That could lead to new betting options in Oregon and Washington, if legislators decide to allow betting on team sports in those states.

But it turns out Oregon already had the ability to let bettors plunk down money on their favorite football teams. It just wasn't using it.

The court's decision struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, a law that effectively outlawed betting on football, basketball, baseball and other team sports in most states.

Congress enacted the law in 1992. But Oregon had a golden ticket.

Beginning in 1989, the Oregon Lottery had allowed gambling on NFL results. The program was known as Sports Action, and it was allowed to continue despite the federal rules.

That changed in 2005, when state lawmakers decided to kill Sports Action. They did so to attract the NCAA men's basketball tournament to Portland.

Chuck Baumann, a spokesman for the Oregon Lottery, said he hears about the cancellation monthly.

"I'll hear from folks once a month, couple times a month: 'When you gonna bring back Sports Action?'" Baumann said

In fact, the lottery was already considering bringing back the betting program prior to the Monday ruling. Now with a wider array of gambling options potentially available, it's considering its next move.

"We're obviously interested in offering some version of sports-based play in the future," Baumann said. "We have to engage our stakeholders and make sure that it makes sense for Oregon, wherever we might land."

In Washington state legislators will need to act before sports gambling is legalized. All gambling activities are prohibited by the state constitution unless a specific activity is authorized in state law.

In a statement, Washington State Gambling Commission Director Dave Trujillo said, "This is a significant decision that will likely change the landscape of gambling in the United States.”

Dirk VanderHart covers Oregon politics and government for OPB. Before barging onto the radio in 2018, he spent more than a decade as a newspaper reporter—much of that time reporting on city government for the Portland Mercury. He’s also had stints covering chicanery in Southwest Missouri, the wilds of Ohio in Ohio, and all things Texas on Capitol Hill.