The Coquille Tribe of Oregon hasn’t given up on the idea of a casino in Medford.
Rebuffed multiple times over the years, the Coquille Tribe presented to the city the impact of an Oregon casino at a redesigned Roxy Ann Lanes bowling alley in Medford. The federal government is accepting written comments on the plan through Feb. 23.
Medford city attorney Eric Mitton told KOBI5.com that building a casino in Medford is a lengthy process:
“What that would require legally speaking is for the land to be placed into trust, what that means is basically giving it sovereign designation which is part of establishing a casino under Oregon law.”
The Coquille Tribe already operates the Mill Casino in North Bend and has been trying to build a Class II gaming facility in Medford for the last 10 years. The tribe wants to renovate Roxy Ann Lanes into a 30,000-square-foot gaming facility with 650 machines, a bar and support services.
Votes For And Against
Members of the Coquille and Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians listened to the study session and had different viewpoints.
Terri Hansen, with the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe, said:
“I don’t approve of the casino at all. I was born and raised here and I don’t want to see it put other tribes out of business. It will affect our tribe as well as Klamath Rain Rock and I still stand for one tribe, one casino.”
Greg Lemhouse, with the Coquille Indian Tribe, said:
“This is about this local economy, this local community and its benefit. I understand another tribe or business may see it as competition, but that’s the nature of our market to compete.”
At its core, the argument comes down to the not-codified-but-largely-followed concept of “One Tribe, One Casino,” the idea that each Indian tribe gets one casino in Oregon and that’s all.
The 250-page study presented options for the city of Medford. One was to build a new casino on undeveloped property in the suburb of Phoenix (population 4,538) just south of Medford, expanding the existing North Bend Casino or making no changes.
The tribes and their Oregon casinos
Medford is a city in Jackson County with a population of 85,824. The final decision on what can happen with a potential casino belongs to the federal government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Mitton said:
“We’re working on analyzing what we think would make this city whole in terms of services provided to sovereign land and the financial consequences that coincide with that.”
The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians of Oregon operate Three Rivers Casino Resort in Florence and Three Rivers in Coos Bay.
The Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Reservation operate Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City.
The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon operate Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation run the Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton, and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs run Indian Head Casino in Warm Springs.