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Lively appointed chair of new ‘Gambling Regulation’ Committee

The front of a restaurant, with a sign for "Oregon Lottery" displayed outside.
Chris Lehman
The new legislative committee will examine all aspects of legalized gambling in Oregon, including video lottery such as the kind offered at this bar in Eugene.

A Springfield state representative will hold the gavel for a new committee in the Oregon House.

Democrat John Lively will chair the “Gambling Regulation Committee” in the 2023 legislative session, which starts in January. It comes after an interim panel started combing through the state’s lottery and gaming laws over the summer in what legislative leaders called the first top-to-bottom look at the industry in more than 25 years.

Lively said the idea is to thoroughly examine the state of gambling in Oregon.

“Where is all this going, and should there be limits on how fast gambling grows or doesn’t grow, rather than just the fact that if there’s people willing to do it, then we’ll do it,” he said.

Legal gambling in Oregon includes the Oregon Lottery, which makes the vast majority of its revenue from video lottery. The state also regulates horse racing and off-track betting, as well as charitable and social gaming such as bingo and raffles.

There are eight full-service and two limited-service tribally-operated casinos in Oregon, but those aren't regulated by the state. Still, Lively said lawmakers are well aware that state-run gambling can affect tribes.

"If the state continues to try to grow the (Oregon) Lottery rapidly, the impact that has on tribes and their revenue, and whether there's a role the legislature can play regarding revenue-sharing, I don't know what that answer is," he said, but he said the panel would discuss "how we would support and protect the tribes if we continue to grow the lottery."

Unlike the interim committee, this new panel will have the authority to introduce legislation and send it to a vote in the full House. But Lively said it's not immediately clear what members will decide to prioritize.

"There are areas that we could potentially reach some kind of agreement on and work on policy direction, (such as) how well we take care of people who are addicted to gambling, specifically those who are low-income who are most likely to be negatively impacted," he said. "Do we have the programs in place? Are they available? Are they effective?"

The other members of the new Gambling Regulation Committee will be Rep. Farrah Chaichi, D-Beaverton (Vice-Chair), Rep. Boomer Wright, R-Reedsport (Vice-Chair), Rep. Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville, and Rep. Kim Wallan, R-Medford.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”