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Dutch Bros co-founder says new Flying Lark jobs will vanish if Oregon officials keep stalling on betting machines

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Grants Pass, Oregon. – Travis Boersma, co-founder of Dutch Brothers, the entertainment and horseracing project on Grants Pass may close soon before it opens soon without action from Oregon officials, Boersma told NewsWatch 12 on Tuesday.

Boersma’s subsidiary TMB Racing was instrumental in bringing commercial horse racing to the Grants Pass Downs program that was revitalized after Portland Meadows closed in 2019. With racing back in business, Boersma began work at The Flying Lark, a complex near the Downs of It would provide “games, entertainment and dining”.

Flying Lark/Facebook . photo

Key to the Flying Lark concept was the 225 Historical Horse Racing (HHR) – something like a cross between a slot machine and a real horse race, where people bet on videos of past races.

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While casinos are prohibited by the Oregon constitution outside of tribal reservations, a 2013 law has mandated carve out certain methods for historic race betting. Boersma says he also helped craft a bill passed by the Oregon legislature in 2021, SB 165, that ensures multiple stakeholders get a taste of the money that came from both. And Historic horse racing. Governor Brown signed the bill into law in July.

According to Boersma, he started at The Flying Lark with the understanding that everyone was on board.

“We’ve chopped every ‘i’, we’ve crossed every ‘t’ – we’ve had many conversations with the tribe, with government and political figures, from soup to nuts, from top to bottom over the past three years and there’s no mention of the idea that we wouldn’t We can open our doors.”

With dozens of new employees hired late last year and construction nearly finished, The Flying Lark is missing only one thing — approval of HHR machines from the Oregon Racing Commission. But consideration of The Flying Lark’s request has been delayed, which was reported at Willamette Week in November at the request of Governor Kate Brown at the urging of several Oregon tribes.

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TMB Racing filed a legal petition against the Oregon Racing Commission at the end of December, calling on the ORC to expedite its decision.

Boersma says he is surprised by the sudden reluctance, and insists that HHR’s machines are legal and that there is a lot of precedence for having a similarly equipped place.

“[Portland Meadows] “Not only did they have HHR machines, 150 of them on the floor, they had a poker room, and they had the Oregon Lottery and the Keno,” Borsma said. “All we want to do is historical race machines — the purpose, the raison d’être of it is to help keep horse racing on track. Alive “.

If The Flying Lark’s resistance came from Oregon tribes, Boersma says he’s reached out to their representatives to offer partnerships on the project “nothing but the upside and benefit from a financial standpoint.” While Boersma said those talks were continuing into the week before Christmas, he did not indicate if there was any sign of movement.

The project currently employs 165 people. Boersma said that while they can afford to pay these workers through February, their jobs will eventually disappear without a green light from the Oregon Racing Commission.

“This is probably the most painful part of this, for me,” Bursma said. “I had a conversation with them last week and had to tell them the cause and effect here, and it’s disastrous for people and their lives.”

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Boersma said he wasn’t motivated to make profits from the project, but to run out of money back into horse racing and keep sporting life in Oregon.

The Dutch coffee cart that Bursma co-founded with his brother in 1992 went public in September — instantly becoming the largest initial public offering in Oregon history and making Bursma a newly made billionaire.

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