Governor Tina Kotek spoke out against the proposed Coquille Tribe casino in Medford on Thursday, April 13, even though the Bureau of Indian Affairs won’t decide for months. The Tribe argues that the state and the governor do not have an ultimate say.
In response to questions about her stance on gambling, Governor Tina Kotek sent a letter to the nine tribe chairpersons on Thursday. She opposed the Coquille Tribe’s plan for a casino in Medford and followed the lead of past governors who had taken the same position.
The Coquille Tribe claims that Kotek’s emphasis might be on safeguarding the Oregon Lottery and wealthy tribes, and they label his attitude hypocritical and discriminatory.
“There are some folks that don’t want competition, and if you look at the state lottery as a competitor, what competitor would welcome competition in their own space,” said Tribal One CEO Judy Farm.
Class 1, 2, and 3 gambling are defined under the Indian Gambling Regulatory Act. The electronic bingo and video machines suggested by the Tribe fall within the classification of Class 2. The IGRA claims that organizing such events does not need governmental approval.
“What was surprising is, out of the tribes that were there, she specifically called out Coquille when the state has an agreement with the tribes through their compacts that acknowledges that the governor doesn’t have a say in Class 2 gaming,” said Farm.
The Medford casino, according to Tribal Chair Brenda Meade. It would provide 200 employment and assist in sustaining tribal families.
“We’re continuing forward, and this 12-year NNEPA process that has taken much longer than it should have. It doesn’t impact our progress or our position on the project at all,” said Farm.
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Farm argues that the group requests to join the ranks of other groups, including the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaws.
“Clearly, with the Coos Tribe having a smaller facility here and a larger one in Florence, there’s already precedence for that. We’re just trying to do the same thing that Coos and Warm Springs have done, so it’s really interesting that Coquille keeps getting singled out,” said Farm.
To run Class 3 games, tribes need state and federal permission via agreements. The project’s fate will be decided in the following months.
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