The presence of such a mega-casino will not only increase costs to Oregonians due to ruined lives from gambling addiction. It will also: |
- Bring to the Gorge town of Cascade Locks a building five times the size of a Wal-Mart, visible from the Pacific Coast Trail.
- Pollute Oregon, Washington, and the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area with thousands of additional cars every day.
- Increase highway congestion, accidents and fatalities on I-84.
- Markedly increase global warming gas emissions in the region.
- Threaten this national treasure with unchecked sprawl and misuse.
- Create employment for a larger number of people than who now live in Cascade Locks and thereby create pressure for expansion of the town's Urban Growth Boundary.
- Take jobs out of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and return conditions of poverty to tribal members.
- Provide benefit beyond low-wage jobs to only a small cadre of individuals, most of whom are not members of the Warm Springs tribes.
- Lead to a continuation of the gambling "arms race" that will bring more casinos into the Gorge.
A Casino in the Columbia Gorge: Myth vs. Fact
In their efforts to build a large-scale casino in the heart of the Columbia Gorge, casino advocates have laid out a series of false statements that the media and government officials have eagerly stated as fact.
Myth #1: The Tribes have a "right" to have a casino somewhere in the Gorge.
FACT #1: The Tribes DO NOT have a "right" to build a casino anywhere in the Gorge. The Oregon constitution, the State compact with the Tribes, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and other federal laws all present substantial legal roadblocks to allowing a casino anywhere in the Gorge. In fact, in 1984 Oregon passed a ballot measure adding the following language to Oregon's constitution: "The Legislative Assembly has no power to authorize and shall prohibit casinos from operation in the State of Oregon." Article XV, Section (4)(12).
Myth #2: A Gorge casino would not set a precedent. The Warm Springs are the only Tribe to whom this "right" would apply.
FACT #2: Three other Tribes have a stake in the Columbia Gorge (Yakama, Nez Perce, and Umatilla). For example, the Yakama Nation has hundreds of acres of trust land on the Washington side of the Gorge. If the Cascade Locks casino is approved by Governor Kulongoski, other Tribes would view Gorge casinos as being financially lucrative and more politically feasible. Approval of an off-reservation casino in Cascade Locks would break Oregon's current policy on tribal gaming, which prohibits off-reservation casinos. Breaking this policy will lead other Tribes in the State to expect equal treatment, placing their casinos off-reservation nearer to urban centers and our communities.
Myth #3: Oregonians and local residents support a casino in the Gorge.
FACT #3: 53% of Oregonians oppose a Cascade Locks casino while only 34% favor one (margin of error is 4.4%), according to a poll conducted by Grove/Quirk Insight, who is also the pollster for Governor Kulongoski. In Cascade Locks, Bridal Veil and Corbett, the results are almost evenly split. In the Cascade Locks region, 45% oppose and just 47% favor a casino (margin of error is 4.9% at 95% level of confidence). This is far from the "overwhelming support" touted by gambling advocates.
Myth #4: Other Tribes have off-reservation casinos in Oregon, such as the Grande Ronde and the Siletz.
FACT: #4: All casinos in Oregon are located on reservation lands. Tribes like the Grande Ronde and the Siletz were restored to federal recognition by Congress and were granted new reservation lands. The Warm Springs Tribes never lost their federal recognition and have a 660,000-acre reservation.
You can call Governor Kulongoski today at (503) 378-3111 and ask him to keep casinos out of the Gorge. Tell him that there are other, environmentally-sustainable ways to bring economic and social justice to the Warm Springs tribal reservation members and to bring sustainable prosperity to Cascade Locks residents. You can also notify your state and national Congressional representatives that you disapprove of more casinos but support non growth-causing economic development. Doing so may be our only hope of preserving the Gorge as a beautiful and wild place apart for generations to come. Your letters to the editor of local newspapers such as The Oregonian and the Portland Tribune will be helpful as well.
Dear Governor Kulongoski,
I am writing to urge you to oppose a casino anywhere in the Columbia Gorge and to maintain Oregon's current policy of allowing casinos only on Indian reservations.
The Columbia River Gorge is one of Oregon's most special places, as well as a national and worldwide treasure. Its beauty must be protected. Air pollution is already causing damage in the Gorge, and adding thousands of cars and busses every day will greatly increase traffic and make visibility and air quality even worse. Locating a large casino and resort in Cascade Locks would also lead to an explosion of unplanned growth, increasing pressure on the urban growth boundaries that protect surrounding scenic area lands.
I am also concerned about the precedent this will set, and the likelihood that we would see more off reservation casinos both in the Gorge and throughout Oregon. Three other Tribes have a stake in the Columbia Gorge and would expect equal treatment.
Please stop this terrible proposal. I urge you, as Governor, to stand up and protect the Columbia Gorge and oppose the proposed casino in Cascade Locks.
For more information on this issue, you can contact:
Friends of the Columbia Gorge