Oregon City Adopts Neutral Stance On Tribal Gaming

Written By Derek Helling on March 8, 2023
oregon gambling medford casino coquille tribe

While it’s still uncertain whether Oregon gambling will expand to include a gaming facility in Medford, there is one less party opposed to such a development. The Medford City Council officially voted to rescind its position of opposition on the matter.

That won’t clear the way for a proposed slot parlor in the town on its own. However, it could “grease the wheels” to some degree when it comes to expanded tribal gambling in Oregon.

Medford no longer opposes Oregon gambling expansion

According to Brett Taylor of KDRV, the stance of the City of Medford changed on Thursday. That’s when the City Council approved a new resolution by a 5-3 vote regarding potential tribal gaming within the city limits.

In 2013, Medford’s council adopted a stance of opposition to the Coquille Indian Tribe’s plan to develop a Class II gaming facility in the city. That is now a thing of the past, as the new resolution communicates a neutral stance on the issue.

That decision bears some importance. Ultimately the Bur eau of Indian Affairs (BIA) will decide whether the Coquille Tribe can establish the gaming facility. But the input of the local community factors into that decision.

That decision could come soon. The Medford City Council isn’t the only local authority to weigh in on the matter recently.

Jackson County officials submit comments

Last month, Jackson County, Oregon commissioners submitted comments to the BIA as it reviews the Coquille Indian Tribe’s appeal, according to Kevin McNamara of News10. The primary concern of the Commission was a potential loss of property tax revenue.

The BIA originally rejected the Coquille Tribe’s application in 2020. At that time, the BIA said the intended site of the slot parlor was too far from the Tribe’s administrative offices. The Tribe still owns the property in Medford where it plans to build its slot parlor, currently the site of a bowling alley.

However, it can’t develop that establishment without approval from the BIA. Jackson County argued that it is not opposed to the Coquille Tribe’s plans. However, it feels the BIA has not taken into account the amount of property tax revenue it stands to lose.

When the BIA takes a parcel of land into trust for a tribe, it becomes the sovereign territory of that group. Thus, it is no longer subject to local and state property tax provisions. While the Coquille Tribe awaits the fate of its appeal, other tribal authorities are watching for the result as well.

Opposition from nearby tribal authorities

Taylor also reports that three tribal authorities that operate casinos in the region have expressed opposition to the Coquille Tribe’s plans. Those are the:

  • Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians
  • Klamath Tribe
  • Karuk Tribe

Spokespeople for all three tribal groups expressed concern to Taylor that the Coquille Tribe opening their second gaming establishment in Medford would oversaturate the area with gambling. In turn, it could mean less revenue for their establishments.

The Coquille Tribe also operates The Mill Casino near North Bend. The aforementioned tribes dispute their claim to the Medford area, stating that land was part of their ancestral heritage instead. The BIA will ultimately adjudicate that situation. For now, Medford is officially disinterested.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of Playin USA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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