Ore. bar owners: Don't trim video gaming revenue

Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2009

SALEM, Ore. - Tavern and bar owners have told Oregon state lottery officials that the recession and a statewide smoking ban already have hurt them, and any move to reduce their video gambling commissions will create more hardship.

But education advocates say schools are hurting too. They told a Tuesday hearing that the commission rate should be cut so more lottery proceeds could go to schools. State law requires lawmakers to spend lottery profits on education, parks and other state programs.

Bar and tavern owners keep about 23 percent of the money players lose in the state-run gambling machines that the businesses host. Last year, the lottery paid out about $187 million - or an average of $71,000 for each site.

Still, Ed Fairbank owns Crabby's Underground in Pendleton. He said he's seen the money he gets from video gambling fall from $66,000 three years ago to $48,000 last year.

"I cannot continue to lose money on lunch while hoping lottery money will make up the difference," Fairbank said. "We're all hanging on to the hope that we don't have to pay any more for the state of Oregon's decision to ban smoking in our business."

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