Casino Stalker

Grand Ronde Tribes concerned about proposed inter-tribal casino

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde own and operate the Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde, Oregon. Photo: Spirit Mountain Casino

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde are expressing opposition to a new casino in Oregon.

Grand Ronde met with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians on Monday but the casino was never brought up, lobbyist Justin Martin told The Salem Statesman-Journal. Instead, the public announcement came on Tuesday afternoon.

“Obviously that was a surprise to us,” Martin, who is a Grand Ronde citizen, told the paper.

Beyond being surprised, Martin raised a big concern about the location of the Salem Intertribal Project. Grand Ronde operates the Spirit Mountain Casino, only about a half hour west of Salem so a new facility would be "devastating," he told the paper.

Siletz leaders are pitching the new development as a way to address competition from neighboring Washington. They noted that the Cowlitz Tribe just opened the ilani Casino Resort, a facility that is expected to draw gamblers from Oregon.

"The land's been vacant for several years. We had always hoped to build a casino on it, but when we saw the opportunity to do it was when the casino opened in south Washington," Chairwoman Delores Pigsley told the paper.

Siletz leaders are reaching out to other tribes in hopes of getting them to join the project. They will be able to share in the revenues yet won't be required to invest in the facility, KGW reported.

"There's very little downside for them," attorney Craig Dorsay told the paper.

The location of the proposed Salem Intertribal Project is seen from Interstate 5. The site at the intersection of Astoria Way NE and Astoria St NE in Salem, Oregon, is accessed from Exit 258 of I-5. Image: Google Maps

But there appears to be one big catch. Participating tribes have to promise never to build a casino in the Portland area, according to the station.

There are other hurdles too. The tribe would need to return to the negotiating table to address a provision in its Class III gaming compact that appears to restrict Class III gaming to one location -- the Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City.

Gov. Kate Brown (D) did not outright reject new talks but said all of the tribes in the state must agree to the new facility, according to news reports.

"To date, Governor Brown has not received any proposal that enjoys comprehensive tribal support," a statement quoted by The Oregonian read. "Should Governor Brown receive such a proposal, the discussion would focus on whether the proposed casino would be in the best interest of the tribes, and of the people of Oregon."

According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the proposed gaming site has been in trust since 1988. The tribe maintains a governmental office and operates Hee Hee Illahee Rv Resort adjacent to the site.

Read More on the Story:
Proposed $280 million Salem casino faces legal, political hurdles (The Salem Statesman-Journal 5/2)
Salem casino could keep 'proliferation of casinos' from metro region (KGW 5/2)
New Oregon casino plan: Tribal leaders announce proposed 2021 opening in Salem (The Oregonian 5/2)
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians to build casino (KOIN 5/2)
Tribe bets on casino plan (AP 5/3)
Newly-proposed Salem casino could rival ilani (Vancouver Business Journal 5/3)

Related Stories:
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians unveil unique gaming project (May 2, 2017)