Governor opposes Coquille Tribe’s casino project in Oregon

The Tribe already owns and operates the Mill Casino located on Highway 101 in North Bend, Oregon.

Medford Gov. Kate Brown issued her formal opposition to the Tribe’s plan to develop a class II gaming facility in the city.

US.-  Gov. Kate Brown issued her formal opposition to the Coquille Indian Tribe’s project to develop a class II gaming facility in Medford.

Brown voiced her concerns about the proliferation of casino gambling in Oregon in a letter to Stan Speaks, the Northwest regional director for the BIA’s Division of Realty. “I do not believe that an expansion in the number of casinos sited in Oregon is in the best interests of the State or her people,” Brown wrote: “I know that this project is relatively modest in scale … But I believe that the State should as a matter of policy resist the building of additional casinos, because State support for even a single, modest, additional casino is likely to lead to significant efforts to expand gaming across Oregon to the detriment of the public welfare.”

The tribe has expressed its disappointment with Brown’s stance, as it is attributed to a continuation of a false “one casino” policy, known as the “Kitzhaber Doctrine.” Brenda Meade, Coquille Indian Tribe chairperson said: “We expected her to stay neutral. She understands what economic development means, but there hasn’t been a single page of analysis from the Department of the Interior released. This is a very long federal process, and we wanted the analysis done to see how it would affect services, traffic and interested parties.”

Former Gov. John Kitzhaber had long held a position of shaping tribal-sponsored gambling, which included reaching an agreement with the tribes on limiting them to one gambling site per tribe. However, there are no actual laws that limit tribes to only one casino.

As a matter of fact, the compact signed in 2000 by the Coquille Indian Tribe does not preclude them from seeking a second class III casino any longer. Under Coquille’s contract the tribe would not seek a compact for another class III facility only for a period of five years. Furthermore, the deal never placed a restriction on class II facilities.

In any event, the question of whether the Coquille Indians move forward with the project will not by determined by the governor or by any other state entity, but by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.