While there are lottery games still being playing and tickets being sold, the video lottery games have been shut down by the state because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike the other games where tickets can be sold a few at a time, with social distancing not a problem, video lottery machines can have several people playing at a time in close proximity.
And it is not the business owner’s choice. The state turns them off and on as desired. and they have been turned off since the Governor’s latest declaration of emergency last fall.
Denine Tucker, manager of the Thunderegg Coffee Company, said the proceeds from video lottery machines normally covers the payroll at that business, so all the employees have been laid off.
Ron Jaramillo, owner of Casa Jaramillo, declined to give the impact on his business, but said the state is helping with some of the costs.
“They have shouldered the amusement tax per machine [$135 per year],” he said.
While there are a number of entities and services in Malheur County that are funded fully or partially with lottery funds, there is only one that is specially identified as getting distribution from the poker games.
According to the 2020-21 budget document that amount is $391,000 which goes into the county’s economic development program, primarily paying for the contracted services of the county economic development director.
How much of those funds could be affected by the reduction in video lottery revenue is not known. An inquiry to the lottery about how much poker revenue is being lost would take a few days for a response, according to an e-mail from the Oregon Lottery early last week.
No further information was returned by press time.