Senators oppose Medford casino
Oct 30, 2013
By The Associated Press
MEDFORD — Add U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to the list of politicians opposed to a Medford casino.
Oregon has nine casinos, each owned by a different tribe. The Coquille Indian Tribe has a casino along the central Oregon coast at North Bend and now plans to turn a Medford bowling alley into a casino with video gambling.
In a letter to Kevin Washburn, assistant secretary of Indian Affairs with the U.S. Department of the Interior, the senators criticized the proposal because it runs counter to Oregon's policy of one casino per tribe.
“In Oregon, we have a long history of striking a balance between the pursuit of gaming revenues, which benefits tribal members enormously, and the risks associated with a significant increase in the number of gaming facilities, which would have negative consequences on many of our communities,” the senators wrote in the Oct. 21 letter obtained by the Mail Tribune newspaper.
The proposal had already drawn opposition from Gov. John Kitzhaber, Jackson County commissioners and the city of Medford.
The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians, which operates a casino on Interstate 5 about 70 miles north of the city, has paid $300 a month for a billboard north of Medford that opposes the Coquille's proposal. The sign proclaims, “No Reservation Shopping” — which refers to Indian tribes looking to build casinos farther and farther from reservations.
The Coquille casino in North Bend is about 165 miles northwest of Medford. The tribe has asked the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to place the Medford land in a government trust, which would start a process that could lead to reservation status for the site.
Brenda Meade, chairwoman for the Coquille tribe, said the Coquille never agreed to a one-casino-per-tribe policy, and that state politicians such as Kitzhaber have an interest in preventing more casinos because they could potentially take money from the Oregon Lottery.
“It is interesting that so many people have so much to say about our project but none of them has talked to us about it,” she said.
Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/
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