Gambling is a major pastime in the Beaver State. There are dozens of tribal casino establishments, poker rooms, horse racing tracks and even a greyhound park dotting the map of Oregon. Gambling is big business, and that has left many online poker enthusiasts wondering just where the state’s law makers stand on the issue of online poker.
Legality of Online Poker in Oregon
Oregon is one of just a handful of states where online poker laws have been explicitly enacted. Unfortunately for players, Oregon has not taken a positive stance on the activity. Where Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have chosen to legalize and regulate online poker, Oregon chose to amend its revised statutes with specific verbiage that embraces online poker as unlawful internet gambling.
The next section offers a glance at Oregon’s online poker laws. We are not exactly qualified to give legal advice and you are more than welcome to contact a licensed attorney in your area to explain the literature of the state’s internet gambling laws, but if you take a moment to read the following excerpts, it’s pretty clear that online poker is illegal in the Beaver State.
Oregon Revised Statutes – Gambling
The following is a list of quoted text from the Oregon Revises Statutes pertaining to the legality of online poker. Some text has been condensed to maintain relativity, but the meaning has not been affected.
(1) A person engaged in an Internet gambling business may not knowingly accept, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful gambling using the Internet:
(a) Credit, or the proceeds of credit, extended to or on behalf of such other person, including credit extended through the use of a credit card;
(b) An electronic funds transfer or funds transmitted by or through a money transmission business, or the proceeds of an electronic funds transfer or money transmission service, from or on behalf of the other person;
(c) Any check, draft or similar instrument that is drawn by or on behalf of the other person and is drawn on or payable at or through any financial institution; or
(d) The proceeds of any other form of financial transaction that involves a financial institution as a payor or financial intermediary on behalf of or for the benefit of the other person.
(2) Violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class C felony. [2001 c.502 §2]
Contest of Chance: means any contest, game, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance, notwithstanding that skill of the contestants may also be a factor therein
Gambling: means that a person stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the control or influence of the person, upon an agreement or understanding that the person or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.
Internet: means an interactive computer service or system or an information service, system or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server and includes, but is not limited to, an information service, system or access software provider that provides access to a network system commonly known as the Internet, or any comparable system or service and also includes, but is not limited to a World Wide Web page, newsgroup, message board, mailing list or chat area on any interactive computer service or system or other online service.
Player: means a person who engages in any form of gambling solely as a contestant or bettor, without receiving or becoming entitled to receive any profit therefrom other than personal gambling winnings, and without otherwise rendering any material assistance to the establishment, conduct or operation of the particular gambling activity…
Unlawful: means not specifically authorized by law
(1) A person commits the crime of unlawful gambling in the second degree if the person knowingly:
(a) Places a bet with a bookmaker; or
(b) Participates or engages in unlawful gambling as a player.
(2) Unlawful gambling in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.
(1) A sentence to pay a fine for a misdemeanor shall be a sentence to pay an amount, fixed by the court, not exceeding:
(a) $6,250 for a Class A misdemeanor.
(b) $2,500 for a Class B misdemeanor.
(c) $1,250 for a Class C misdemeanor.
(2) A sentence to pay a fine for an unclassified misdemeanor shall be a sentence to pay an amount, fixed by the court, as provided in the statute defining the crime.
(3) If a person has gained money or property through the commission of a misdemeanor, then upon conviction thereof the court, instead of imposing the fine authorized for the offense under this section, may sentence the defendant to pay an amount fixed by the court, not exceeding double the amount of the defendants gain from the commission of the offense. In that event, ORS 161.625 (Fines for felonies) (4) and (5) apply.
All persons losing money or anything of value at or on any unlawful game described in ORS 167.117 (Definitions for ORS 167.108 to 167.164 and 464.270 to 464.530), 167.122 (Unlawful gambling in the second degree) and 167.127 (Unlawful gambling in the first degree) shall have a cause of action to recover from the dealer winning the same, or proprietor for whose benefit such game was played or dealt, or such money or thing of value won, twice the amount of the money or double the value of the thing so lost
What does it all mean? Is online poker illegal in Oregon?
It’s quite clear that Oregon has chosen to explicitly outlaw online poker and other forms of internet gambling. While sub-section 167.109 aims to thwart operators and financial businesses from permitting Oregon players from making deposits, it also mentions that players are committing ‘unlawful gambling’ by participating (“…in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful gambling”). The term gambling includes all forms of wagering on a contest of chance (whether skill is involved or not) and the term unlawful refers to anything not expressly legalized by the state.
The penalty for engaging in online poker as a player is a Class A misdemeanor, subject to a fine not to exceed $6,250. However, on an interesting note, according to sub-section 30.740, a player who loses money by engaging in unlawful gambling has the right to sue the winner for up to 2x the amount of money lost, or 2x the value of anything other than money lost. I guess it doesn’t pay to be a god online poker player in Oregon.
Is Oregon working to regulate online poker?
After having gone to the trouble to explicitly outlaw internet gambling, it wouldn’t make sense for legislators to spearhead a movement to legalize and regulate online poker in Oregon. However, the state has been on a regulatory rampage lately and could just as easily decide that online poker would be beneficial to the state’s tax coffers. For the moment, it’s a waiting game, but as more states consider legalization and the US government moves closer to regulating online poker on a federal level, the chances Oregon will permit online poker could increase significantly.