Oregon is one of a handful of states that has enacted a law dealing specifically with internet gambling. Oregon Revised Statutes §167.109 is a mini-version of the federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The Oregon statute criminalizes payment processing by “any person engaged in an internet gambling business” if the proceeds of the payment are to be used for “unlawful gambling” over the Internet.
As with UIGEA, the Oregon statute raises the question of whether poker is “unlawful gambling”. An expansive interpretation of ORS §167.117, the section of the code that defines gambling, would probably include poker. It defines gambling in terms of risk, value and chance, with a specific caveat that if the outcome depends “in a material degree” upon an element of chance, it will fall under the definition of gambling even though skill may also be a factor. The term “unlawful”, for purposes of the ORS, means something that is “not specifically authorized by law”. The play of poker, a form of gambling, is nowhere authorized by law in Oregon.
As a result, Internet poker is probably “unlawful gambling”. Remember, however, that the statute does not criminalize the play of online poker by players. It targets operators.
There is no state regulation of poker in Oregon. However, Oregon Revised Statutes §167.121gives counties and local municipalities the option to authorize “social games” at private businesses and clubs. Oregon considers a social game to be one in which there is no house player or house odds and the house receives no income from operating the game.
Thus, the question of whether live poker is legal in Oregon is one that can only be made on a city-by-city or county-by-county basis. Portland allows live poker games if the business has a permit for the games and only if no player can bet more than $1 per hand or tournament. More than 50 such permits have been issued in recent years; the max-bet rules seem to be laxly enforced (if enforced at all). Most of these business make money from selling food and drink to the players but some also charge an entrance fee.
Oregon has nine tribal casinos, several of which legally offer poker on at least a limited basis under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.