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Oregon powers off video lottery as coronavirus spreads

Oregon Lottery officials did not say when the thousands of terminals turned off Tuesday would be powered back on. Sean Simmers | [email protected]

Oregon Lottery officials switched all of the state-operated video lottery terminals to “sleep mode” Tuesday, in response to escalating restrictions meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The shutdown reached several thousands of machines across the state, said Matt Shelby, an Oregon Lottery spokesman. Most of the machines are inside restaurants, bars and taverns, which Gov. Kate Brown ordered on Monday to close temporarily to on-site customers.

The lottery said its video terminals will be powered off “until further notice.”

The shutdown will bite into state funding. Seventy percent of the money generated by the lottery comes from video gambling, which brings in millions of dollars every day, according to the state. A one-month shutdown could add up to at least $80 million, using 2018 figures as a guide.

The money that doesn’t go to winners goes to state education, economic development and parks, among other causes.

The decision to shutdown the state’s video lottery terminals did not impact video lottery machines operated by Oregon tribes. Many tribal casinos also announced Tuesday that they would close.

Oregon powers off video lottery as coronavirus spreads Oregon Lottery officials did not say when the thousands of terminals turned off Tuesday would be powered back on. Sean Simmers |

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The Oregon Lottery Is Suspending Play On Video Lottery Terminals—Its Largest Source of Cash

The Oregon Lottery today made an announcement that follows logically from Gov. Kate Brown’s March 16 order that Oregon’s bars restaurants and bars and restaurants close because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In compliance with Gov. Brown’s recent executive order on social distancing, Oregon Lottery is disabling play on its statewide network of Video Lottery terminals, effective at 5 p.m. today,” said Lottery spokesman Matt Shelby.

“Video Lottery terminals will be disabled until further notice. Terminals will remain in the field and Lottery staff will continue providing scheduled maintenance.”

The loss of video lottery may be a boon to chronic gamblers but will be a big financial hit for the state.

After personal income taxes (which will plummet during the COVID-19 pandemic), the Oregon Lottery is the state’s second largest source of revenue—and video lottery is by far the agency’s largest and most lucrative offering, accounting for about 72 percent of the agency’s revenues in 2019.

Lottery revenues reached record highs in 2019, with video lottery alone bringing in nearly $1 billion.

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