Boersma’s End Run in Oregon

The battle lines have been drawn in Oregon, where Grants Pass owner (and billionaire coffee mogul) Travis Boersma seeks to install 225 “Historical Racing Machines” (HRMs) at the “Flying Lark,” a resort that’s to be attached to the racetrack. The strategy for Boersma is clear: circumvent the prohibition of private casinos in Oregon by calling these HRMs anything but what they actually are – slot machines. On the other side are the Indigenous tribes who operate casinos throughout the state. They claim, rightly, that these machines would violate the law, or at least the spirit thereof.

What is beyond debate is that the savvy Boersma did not plow millions into renovating Grants Pass because he sees horseracing as a winning proposition in the 21st Century. From The Oregonian in April: “Boersma doesn’t expect the actual horse races to make money. … The main attraction at the Flying Lark will be 250 betting terminals known as ‘historic horse racing’ machines.” Indeed, those machines would become a cash spigot for Boersma. Unfortunately (for the horses), the governor has left the decision on whether to grant Boersma the machines to the Oregon Racing Commission. Aside from the obvious – racing commissioners are, as a rule, pro-racing – Boersma’s plan also includes offices for the Commission at the “Flying Lark” and $200,000 in Commission funding. Wow. Talk about a conflict of interest.

Here is a more detailed account of the tribes’ fight. And my previous posts on this: here and here.

And please consider weighing in with the powers that be:

Governor Brown: phone/contact/social media
Senate Democratic Leaders
Senate Republican Leaders
House Leaders

Oregon Racing Commission: 971-673-0207
Executive Director Jack McGrail: 971-673-0209; ​jack.mcgrail@orc.oregon.gov

4 Comments

  1. Patrick, thanks for writing this post. It’s so disturbing that the Governor of Oregon has chosen money over morals. This is another act of breaking the promises made to the Indigenous tribes. It is so wrong on so many levels.

    • Sadly, Wanda our state is now only about the $$! As a good Kentuckian told us in 2005 before he & his newly wed wife left for Washington,” Oregon is just like Kentucky. A little tax here, a little tax there, you don`t see them but you know they`re there.” He was the good man who basically rescued us from a very bad situation at our now defunct , redeveloped 1 mile track.For his help he was not treated well & at the stroke of midnight quite literally when his maintaining contract with the Stronach owned track ended he left.He is now working at a assisted living facility at DOUBLE the $$ with complete health care for himself & his wife. When he left so did we. What we could relate as to our experiences at the tracks here in the NW. We have had many of the same experiences of Gina.when we were involved with this “crooked , crummy , gamboling game.” Drug use is now decriminalized in our state & there is a push on to decriminalize prostitution as well! This state is no longer the way it used to be when our family moved here in 1950.

      • I was horrified by the thought of decriminalizing prostitution in the State of Oregon when you made that comment yesterday, fredjoan. It’s unacceptable. Human-trafficking is a horrible thing and it should never, ever be decriminalized. Prostitution, child pornography, human trafficking, gambling, illegal use of drugs, horseracing and horse-killing ought to be punished, not rewarded. I know, you can’t legislate morality, but, at the very least, we ought to be able to trust in a decent few to uphold the laws against such evil deeds.

  2. is there any way you can give us all th email addresses in a block that we cvan send to

    On Thu, Nov 11, 2021 at 9:30 AM Horseracing Wrongs wrote:

    > Patrick Battuello posted: “The battle lines have been drawn in Oregon, > where Grants Pass owner (and billionaire coffee mogul) Travis Boersma seeks > to install 225 “Historical Racing Machines” (HRMs) at the “Flying Lark,” a > resort that’s to be attached to the racetrack. The strategy ” >

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