Governor calls for more time for closer review of casino plan

Gov. John Kitzhaber has stepped into the debate over a proposed casino in Medford, asking the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs for a 60-day period for careful review by state agencies.

Kitzhaber wants to see a business plan for the casino and gauge the potential impacts in allowing the type of video gaming being proposed.

The Coquille Indian Tribe, which runs the Mill Casino in North Bend, has proposed a casino in Medford at the Roxy Ann Lanes along South Pacific Highway and has also purchased Kim's Restaurant. The tribe has agreed to lease the Bear Creek Golf Course.

The tribe has asked Indian Affairs to place the property in a U.S. government trust that starts a process that could lead to reservation status.

Kitzhaber's general counsel, Liani Reeves, sent a certified letter on Feb. 28 to Stan Speaks, northwest regional director for Indian Affairs, asking for 60 days additional time for comment.

The governor previously has opposed efforts to build more casinos in Oregon, saying it violates the spirit of a long-standing agreement of one casino for every tribe.

The Coquilles propose building a Class II casino in Medford, which would have 500 video game machines, but no table games. Class III casinos in the state such as Seven Feathers or The Mill Casino, also run by the Coquilles, have a greater variety of video gaming machines, along with table games such as roulette or blackjack.

Kitzhaber stated in his letter that the Coquille Indian Tribe's application for a Class II gaming facility is the first of its kind in Oregon, requiring additional time for state review.

— Damian Mann

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