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.
And please consider weighing in with the powers that be:
Oregon Racing Commission: 971-673-0207
Executive Director Jack McGrail: 971-673-0209; firstname.lastname@example.org