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Medford casino meets with skepticism in the House

Sep 24, 2013


By The Associated Press

MEDFORD — A proposal by an Oregon tribe to open a casino in Medford has drawn criticism from the chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, who says it's an example of proliferation that could eventually harm Indian interests.

The Coquille Indian Tribe's proposal to open its second casino has met with opposition from public officials and a second tribe, the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians, in Southern Oregon. The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians operates a casino north of Medford on Interstate 5 and fears losing business to one in the city.

Oregon has nine casinos, each owned by a different tribe. The Coquille tribe has a casino along the central Oregon coast at North Bend and plans to turn a Medford bowling alley into a casino with video gambling.

The congressional panel considered the proposal at a Sept. 19 hearing. It recommended rewriting portions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 to make it more difficult for tribes to set up distant casinos, said Chairman Don Young, an Alaska Republican.

He predicted a proliferation of casinos eventually could harm tribal gambling enterprises by breaking their hold on casino gambling, the Medford Mail Tribune reported.

“Eventually the states are going say, ‘To hell with it’ and say, ‘We will legalize gambling,’” Young said.

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, chairperson for the Coquille tribe, said the 1989 restoration act for her tribe specified that Jackson County was one of five that the tribe could conduct its business in.

Meade said the tribe was restored a year after the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, so the restoration act was very specific in describing where it could do business.

Ray Doering, spokesman for the Coquilles, said the Indian gambling act was designed to help lift tribes out of poverty.

“Nobody wrote in there that anyone was guaranteed a monopoly,” he said. “I-5 is not built for just one business. It was built for everybody's business.”

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Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/

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