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Oregon Officials See Unprecedented Video Lottery Sales In 2021

Chris Lehman

The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered many regular gaming venues over the past year.  Now recent re-openings of bars and taverns across Oregon have generated significant spikes in video lottery sales. 

Josh Lehner of the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis shared the trend at a recent economic summit. 

“Video lottery sales just – at least at the start of April- were 50% higher than they’ve physically ever been in Lane County,” he told attendees at the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce's event.

By some measure, it's a positive economic trend as people - having been holed up at home throughout the pandemic -  are feeling free to get out and spend again. 

Credit Zoom presentation / Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce
Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce
Josh Lehner's slide shows the dips and rises of video lottery sales for both Oregon and Lane County.

But officials warn against gambling one’s wages and savings on the games, all for some desired payoff as aftershocks of the pandemic economy still linger.  

“The sad truth of video lottery when times are bad, that revenue goes up,"  said Austin Ramirez, Lane County’s Community and Economic Development Manager. 

"We know people sometimes feel like that’s a way to get out of a hole, so we’ve seen a pattern where sometimes during recession people are willing to spend that money rather than in other places.”

In March, video lottery sales surpassed $21 million, statewide. That’s a dramatic increase from December, where sales were under $700,000 across Oregon.

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.