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Oregon Readies Lottery on NFL Point Spread

From Associated Press

The Oregon Lottery Commission today approved draft rules that would make Oregon the only state to run a lottery contest based on point spreads of National Football League games.

The commission endorsed the new game despite the objections of an NFL attorney, who said the action would harm the integrity of professional football.

Proceeds from the game, called Sports Action, are to go to Oregon college and university intercollegiate sports programs, which now receive no state funding.

Under the rules of the game, players would wager $1 and try to predict the outcome of between four and 14 games against the point spreads set by Nevada odds makers. The more games they bet, the more money they could win.

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Precedent Feared

NFL attorney Jim Noel told the commission that the game would create a situation in which fans are more interested in point spreads than they are in how their favorite teams fare.

Noel also said the league is concerned that approval of such a game would set a dangerous precedent.

“Oregon is on the brink of triggering a nationwide trend,” he said. “The entire nation is watching.”

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Noel said the NFL would consider legal action to block the contest.

“We didn’t come out here to threaten anyone,” he said. But, he added: “There are some very viable legal issues here that we’re going to evaluate.”

Commission members noted, however, that betting on professional sports already is widespread.

‘Pick Up a Phone’

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“All you have to do in Oregon is pick up a phone and place a bet,” Oregon Lottery Director Jim Davey said. “People do it every day.”

Noel countered that the NFL does not want to see gambling on professional sports expand.

“The net effect of the Oregon game will be to increase the overall volume of betting,” the NFL attorney said.

The 1989 Oregon Legislature approved a bill calling on the Lottery Commission to create a sports-oriented game to generate money for college sports. Davey and the lottery staff put together the specifics of the NFL contest.

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