Oregon, just like other US states offers casino gambling and lottery. While this sounds well, casino gambling is restricted to tribal lands and the lottery is state-run. On the other hand, casino gambling if not on tribal lands is prohibited by Oregon state laws.
A new proposal seeks to add more than 200 historic horse racing machines at a planned venue dubbed The Flying Lark located in Grants Pass. However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an opinion from the Oregon Racing Commission last week, calling the proposed horse racing machines unconstitutional.
Historic Horse Racing Machines Violate the Laws in Oregon
The statement was released on Friday last week but was dated February 11, commenting Grants Pass’ horse racing machine proposal. Under the proposal, TMB Racing LLC (TMB Racing) plans to operate 225 historical horse racing machines at Grants Pass Downs horse racing course. The operator asked the Commission whether introducing horse racing machines complies with the laws in the state.
According to the commission, operating the historic horse racing machines would violate two state laws. One of them is related to the prohibition of casinos and the other is related to the prohibition of offering lotteries, except when operated by the State Lottery.
“The planned concentration of 225 electronic gaming machines offering games of chance constitutes a casino,”
reads a statement released by the Department of Justice in Oregon
In its opinion, the Commission outlined that gathering many electronic gaming machines that offer games of chance in a single venue “constitutes a casino.” This is the first issue that the Commission pointed out, explaining that TMB Racing’s plan would violate the prohibition of casinos in Oregon.
Moreover, the Oregon Racing Commission explained that the design and features of historic horse racing machines makes them “games of chance that do not afford players any meaningful opportunity to exercise skill.” In other words, those machines are like lotteries. As lotteries are prohibited, unless run by the State Lottery, the Commission said that it cannot authorize historic horse racing machines.
Dutch Bros. Coffee Owner Disappointed with DOJ’s Opinion
Dutch Bros. Coffee is the company that bought Grants Pass Downs a few years ago. The company’s co-founder, Travis Boersma, released a statement in response to the opinion of the Oregon Racing Commission saying that he is disappointed. Moreover, he said that the DOJ opinion “willfully disregards the state’s laws, which were lobbied for and agreed upon by Oregon’s sovereign nations.”
“I’m disappointed in the DOJ’s opinion regarding The Flying Lark.”
Travis Boersma, co-founder of Dutch Bros. Coffee
In contrast, Tribal operators who have previously voiced their concerns regarding the historic horse racing machines are happy with the Commission’s opinion. Still, it is yet to be confirmed if lawmakers may implement changes to legalize the historic horse racing machines. If such changes are introduced, the state would create a new stream of tax revenue.