An initiative brought the issue of a lottery to Oregon voters in 1984, and a constitutional amendment was passed with a majority of 66 percent. The Oregon Lottery began ticket sales with a Scratch-it instant game on April 25, 1985.
The Lottery’s first draw game was Megabucks, launched in November 1985. Daily 4 followed in March 1987, and Lotto*America sales began in February 1988. Pulltabs were introduced in January 1988. In 1991, Oregon became the first American lottery to offer a monitor game when fast-draw keno debuted in September.
Current draw games offered by the Oregon Lottery include Powerball, Mega Millions, Oregon’s Game Megabucks, Lucky Lines, Win for Life and Pick 4. Keno is offered at select locations, and is also available as Keno to Go.
A unique part of the Oregon Lottery’s history was its long-running Sports Action game, based on the outcome of professional football games. Launched in September 1989, it was the first successful sports wagering game offered by any American lottery. A second football game, Scoreboard, was introduced in 2003. Combined, the two games generated more than $36 million in revenues for intercollegiate athletics and academic scholarships in Oregon over 18 seasons. They ended in January 2007 after the legislature removed a directive that the Lottery operate games based on the results of sporting events.
Most revenue generated by the Oregon Lottery today comes from video lottery terminals, which began in 1992 as a way to eliminate a vast network of illegal gray market machines. Following in South Dakota’s footsteps, the VLTs are operated in a wide-area network.
Oregon voters choose the broad categories that receive Oregon Lottery proceeds. From inception to 1995, Lottery revenues benefitted economic development and job creation. In 1995, voters approved a change that sent a share of revenues to support public education. And in 1998, another vote authorized some Lottery proceeds to be used for natural resources.
The current distribution of Oregon Lottery revenues is as follows:
- Public Education, 59 percent. Lottery dollars are distributed into four areas within education: the Education Stability Fund, the State School Fund, colleges and universities and bonds.
-Economic Development, 25 percent. These funds are allocated for job creation and economic development.
- State Parks and Natural Resources, 15 percent. These funds are divided equally between state parks and watershed enhancement/salmon restoration.
- Problem Gambling Treatment, one percent. These funds are administered by the Oregon Department of Human Services and are distributed to programs throughout the state.
Year Established: 1984
Products Offered: Instant games, Powerball®, Mega Millions®, MegabucksSM(lotto), Keno, Pick 4SM, Lucky LinesSM, Win for LifeSM, RaffleSM, and Video LotterySM games.
Beneficiaries: K-12 public education, economic development, parks and natural resources programs.