Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek officially declared her position on the hot topic of gambling expansion, explicitly stating that her office would not support any form of gambling expansion in the state.
A Topic of Great Interest
Gov. Kotek sent a letter to all nine recognized Indigenous tribes and the Oregon Lottery Thursday to address gaming, the “topic of great interest to tribes, legislators, and communities” and explain her general position or policy on gaming and whether her office would support any form of gambling expansion.
The formal reason for the letter was the continuous push of the Coquille Tribe to build its second casino in Medford, setting a breakaway from past governors’ policies of one tribal gaming facility per tribe on reservation land.
“There is also the Coquille’s Tribe application to the Department of Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs to have land in Medford taken into trust for the purpose of gaming (Class II),” Kotek wrote in the letter that was also addressed to the US Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Bryan Newland.
Statewide Negative Impact
A new casino in Medford will impact negatively all of Oregon’s tribes which are highly dependent on casino gaming revenue to fund public services for tribal citizens such as housing, education, healthcare, social services, and others. There will be a negative impact on tribes in Northern California, too.
“This proposal would not only lead to the expansion of gaming in the area but would create many more concerns about the expansion of gaming statewide,” she continued before siding with former Gov. John Kitzhaber and former Gov. Kate Brown who both sent letters to the BIA “in opposition to this gaming proposal.”
According to the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, building a casino in Medford which is just 70 miles away from the tribe’s Seven Feathers Casino Resort will result in a 25% reduction in Cow Creek tribal government services.
The final say on whether to approve placing land for the Coquille tribe’s casino project will rest on the US Department of the Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs and Secretary Haaland was in Bend last month to meet with Oregon’s tribal leaders.
I wanted to provide this clarification of my Tribal gaming policy so that Tribes, the federal government and local entities know where I stand.
Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek
Kotek explicitly stated she favors “one gaming facility per tribe on reservation land.”
In January, there were reports that state legislators would take a closer look at gambling expansion in 2023 but any legislative initiative would be dead in the water without having Gov. Kotek on board.