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Governor, Don't Gamble Away the Gorge!

The Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area is an extremely spectacular, but fragile national treasure right in Portland's backyard. Yet Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski has stated his intention to reverse his position on the proliferation of gambling casinos in Oregon and allow a 500,000 square foot, off-reservation casino smack dab in the middle of the Gorge.
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.

Sample letter:

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.

Sincerely,
Your Name

For more information on this issue, you can contact:
Friends of the Columbia Gorge
(503) 241-3762
www.gorgefriends.org

add a comment on this article

Measure 37 18.Jan.2005 13:30

Derrick

Thankyou for this post! Sadly though, thanks to Measure 37 the urban growth boundaries dont mean anything now.

The Crown Jewel of Oregon!!!!! 18.Jan.2005 15:37

David Mildrexler

There is no time for sob stories about 37 with regards to this issue. This is a must win fight. The Gorge is sacred, it is culturally historic, it is unreplaceable, it is biologically outstanding, and it is one of the most incredible landscapes within reach of a major urban center anywhere in the country. This casino proposal is absurd. It contradicts the entire sense of place and amounts to weapons of mass economic destruction. The towns in the Gorge have every opportunity to grow and thrive through promotion of the incredile outdoor opportunities, like backcountry hiking in the Wilderness, world renowned wind surfing, sight-seeing, wildlife viewing, and the quaint charm of the towns like Cascade Locks and so much more. All of these opportunities are contradicted by the Casino. The fact that some Native Americans are behind this proposal is sad and telling about the failure of these individuals to respect what was sacred to their ancestors. We must pick up the slack. Write, call and fight tooth and nail against this horrendous proposal, or for the rest of our lives, we will see this massive scar and all that will accompany it. This is our fight to win because we are so clearly in the right. How many times have you been to the Gorge, and it has filled your soul with all the beauty and majesty you could imagine. People all over the world recognize the incredible beauty of our Columbia River Gorge. It is time for us to stand up and protect it from wicked development with the complete awareness of how special this place is. Do not hesistate to take action.

The Sky is Falling!!!!!! 18.Jan.2005 16:23

Whitey Cracker

Puh-leaze.

The sactimonous references to sacred spaces, ecological hollocaust, and "we are so clearly in the right"
make this long-time forest warrior a little sick to my stomach. Exactly how sacred are the traintracks (on both sides of the river) the McMansions that dot the hills, the damn dams that create the slack-water and the interstate that barrels through the middle of the Gorge?

Yet whitey is worried about the "horrendous scar" from a tribal casino?

Please get over yourselves.

You want to pat yourselves on the back for fighting the good fight for the Columbia, then take on the Smelter that stills pours dioxin into the River just North of the US border, or fight for clean-up at Hanford, or fight to save the fish killed by the Snake River dams, or help out the pear orchards in Hood River that are about to become more condos for yuppies who are so harmed by the sight of a casino.

But piling on the tribes for a casino in down-and-out Cascade Locks? Thats really the best you have to offer?
Damn I wish I had your problems.

Pssssst. I'll let you in on a secret.
Fat white gamblers in motor homes are the only truly renewable resource left in America.
Soak 'em.

Psssst. Another secret. If the Gorge weren't the bugoisee playground for the Portland Wind-surfing suburu crowd,
it would be as "sacred" to you as, say, the Willamette. And the creator knows what yall do to the Willamette River.

Hypocricy has no rival to a white man talking about scacred places.

Whitey 18.Jan.2005 16:57

Derrick

This Gorge should be a National Park!. I dont think the Willamette would ever qulify for that. Maybe someday the gorge has a chance but not if it has a fucki CASINO IN THE MIDDLE OF IT! THE MORE DEVELOPMENT YOU LET IN THE MORE DEVELOPMENT IT WILL ATTRACT THEN OUR BEAUTIFUL GORGE WILL BE TOTALLY RUINED. DONT GIVE AN INCH!

Upstanding the white Mans respect for the Gorge.. 18.Jan.2005 17:23

another disinfranchized Native..

I walk fare into, throught, and on the gorge, I suspect Ive been places in the gorge no man ever set foot, well mabe not any white man for sure.. But these places are vast and beutiful and sacride no second guessing there, But I also see as i walk closer to the ereas of the Gorge towns a real problem, I see only white men,tourist,and trash under every bed of Moss , some people even toss there trash at your feet as you walk by, I know there are really good people here that run there tour bussiness's with respect to the gorge but, alot of resources to make sure trash goes were it belongs is not offordible for them, it simply cost to much, and well the fishing is not the best way of life for use either anymore,even you local resturants cant supply proper tax dollars to effectivly pay local law inforcement and comunity education, we need more to protect this great sacride Place, and Our people need a way of life too , that benifites me , you , and the land, we are not trying to ruen the gorge or the lives in it , we are passionatly trying to improve it, just look at the resource a little fun gambling has done for other places all over the USA, Some people Have Gambling problems sure, But that can be treated, the way of life for our people are not If we cant thrive some how in to days world were lost forever, and if we cant contribute our revinues to the cutys that help make it a better gorge than you suffer too..

Honoring Their People or Nature? 18.Jan.2005 17:46

Big Brown Bear

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs used to have a page on their website (I believe it might even have been the opening page) that included beautiful language about how they believed in preserving and honoring nature and the land. That link/page has been removed and is no longer present in the current website for the Nation.

Perhaps they found their desire to set up business in the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area and Cascade Locks to embarrassingly at odds with their own stated historic and cultural beliefs.

Several questions arise when one considers the construction and maintenance of a casino in Cascade Locks, as opposed to Warm Springs (Kahneeta). Is Kahneeta going to close or only the casino parts? Is the reason for relocating simply monetary (not enough money made for their Nation in central Oregon)? Obviously the commute from Warm Springs to Cascade Locks is too far for any members of the confederated tribes who live in Central Oregon to have any of the jobs at the new casino, so it would obviously not be providing employment opportunities for Native Americans, as Kahneeta does. And with the Cascade Locks casino so far removed from the heart of the Warm Springs community, it seems unlikely that many of the cultural celebrations and activities that made Kahneeta unique will be a part of a Cascade Locks venue where the emphasis is on parting visitors from their money as quickly and efficiently as possible.

I guess no one can blame the sovereign Native American nations from taking the quickest and easiest route to riches but it leaves one wishing that they had incentives to develop other businesses and resources that would better benefit their own communities on the basis of giving individual people and families hope and empowerment, and at the same time honor and protect the environment which Native Americans have traditionally claimed as a high priority.

That Native Americans have turned to vice merchandising - selling illegal fireworks, promoting gambling, and marketing tax-free cigarettes through the mail as a way of making money is sad.

It seems like most of the Casinos are owner 18.Jan.2005 19:03

by fat white men

Other casinos have been largely financed by private investors, who offer to give up the casino to the Tribes once they've made enough money off of it. But often that "enough" never seems to come. Would this casino be any different? I bet the tribal members could relocate into the area if they wanted to, it would just require sufficient wages. I'm personally against casinos, but in this trashy world, they almost seem like an appropriate response.

BBBear 18.Jan.2005 20:24

FT

"That Native Americans have turned to vice merchandising - selling illegal fireworks, promoting gambling, and marketing tax-free cigarettes through the mail as a way of making money is sad. "
And it seems that whitey cant help corrupt the Indians fast enough. Hmmm-I wonder why?

My apologies 19.Jan.2005 10:58

David Mildrexler

I apologize for pointing fingers at any group of people. However, I hope everyone realizes that people doing right and people doing wrong come in every color and from every religion, and we should not be afraid to talk about it.
Whitey Cracker Thanks for bringing up the Snake River Dams. There removal is essential to the survival of wild salmon and many incredible Idaho Mountain Salmon Species. Certainly we should recognize all these important issues. I am also strongly opposed to the trophy houses, a truly difficult thing to stop. And how about that nasty clear cut on the Washington side of the Gorge. You are a forest activist, as am I. So we defend the forest, despite the old O and C land exchange stuff, where vast areas of forest were clear cut and sold into private ownership for railroad development. WE defend it despite the fact that most old growth is long gone. As for the railroad and highway going through the gorge, I do not hold it against the Gorge. Furthermore, I travel on the highway, so I clearly benefit from it too. A larger example, do I hold it against the land or rivers, such as the beautiful Willamette River, once called Multnomah, for housing the city of Portland and millions of people. No, I recognize the relative grace through which the sacred landscape has absorbed so much. These are my Native grounds from birth and who are you to tell me what is sacred. My good fight is my good fight. All I wish to do here is encourage others to join.
You take many needless cheap shots that help no one. Further, the Willamette headwaters are in part, Waldo Lake, one the most beautiful and clean lakes in the world. The river is sacred, what we put into it, is not.

So, do not be discouraged by the many issues that need to be addressed in the Gorge. We must start somewhere, and I think stopping this casino is a great place. Traffic and pollution will increase dramatically. Bulldozers will tear up so much earth. The casino will set a precedent for development in the Gorge that has not yet been seen. Pressure the Governor to oppose this development!

Cree Proverb 19.Jan.2005 16:02

Derrick

"Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we cant eat money"-Cree proverb

from a state where Indian gambling hells are common ... 19.Jan.2005 20:27

anon

the people who are trying to push this through aren't good people, they're well-financed major corporations with an eye towards harvesting easy money from poor and middle-class people looking for a windfall to save them from economic disaster. Putting a gambling hell in the middle of the Gorge would not only create a place for people to lose their hard-earned money, it would also be seen from miles away. Don't let these people, Indian or not, screw you over and destroy the land. Here's an article that I found on the net about this:

Recipe for Corruption
Secretive, Rich Tribes Get Fake "Reservations" in Our Cities
(Jun 10, 2004)

~ By Jill Stewart

For decades, San Pablo has been a sad, little town ignored by the East Bay. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's deal to let the Lytton Band of Indians open a giant casino there, though cheered by city leaders, means San Pablo now faces the prospect of becoming a sad, malevolent, little town---the sort of place the East Bay won't be able to ignore.

When California voters in 2000 handed the state's Indian tribes monopoly rights to build huge, Vegas-like, slot machine casinos around the state, it was with the understanding there would be no urban casinos. The measure was titled "Gambling on Tribal Lands" and the League of Women Voters insisted it applied to "tribal lands only."

To calm critics, who suspected that advisors from Las Vegas were scheming to put casinos in cities, Indian leaders publicly stated that casinos would go only on tribal lands.

Voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1A, which replaced 1998's Prop. 5, which had been tossed out by the courts. What voters did not know was that Prop. 1A and existing federal law created loopholes and trapdoors allowing the tribes to pry open urban areas and locate new "reservations"---and thus casinos---in cities.

Today, of California's 107 federally recognized tribes, 56 mostly tiny gaming tribes earn perhaps $8 billion--nobody knows for sure because the tribes needn't say. Exploding expansion has long since eclipsed an old figure of $5 billion from 2002. Thunder Valley, a casino near Sacramento, just netted $300 million its first year.

Of the 107 tribes, 30 sued for recognition, most of them in order to open casinos. Now, 54 additional groups---some of them highly questionable "tribes" cobbled together by slick lawyers---are insisting the feds name them as tribes, too. Since newly recognized tribes often don't have land suitable for a profitable casino, two dozen of the new ones are "reservation shopping," for land near or inside California cities, according to tribal gaming critic Cheryl Schmit.

If Schwarzenegger's deal, reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, is consummated, San Pablo's will be the first "reservation" and casino smack inside the urban core. Schmit says Schwarzenegger "had no choice" because Congress already designated it for the Lytton Band reservation---a sneaky move a few years ago by California Congressman George Miller (D-Concord) contained in a much bigger omnibus bill.

But let's be clear. Once San Pablo, a mile-square-city, gets a casino and "reservation," a psychological wall tumbles down. After that, California voters should gird for more faux reservations and huge urban casinos---unless voters stop it. State legislators and California members of Congress, hoping for tribal campaign cash, are seeking every possible toehold to create "tribal lands" in cities. Remember, the tribes spent $11 million during the Gray Davis recall, much of it to elect our casino expansionist Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante as governor.

State Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally of Compton has been trying to create a loophole to put a "state-designated" Indian reservation in Compton. Casinos are only allowed on federally designated reservations. This latest twist to put reservations in the cities is a longer-term strategy. Step two is to change the California constitution to allow casinos on "state reservations"---an angle another legislator is quietly working.

That's how politicians behave when billions of dollars, and fat contributions, are involved.

The fabulously rich Sycuan Band will put a $30 million hotel development in National City, a highly urbanized area near San Diego. A casino is not allowed, but the contract leaves the option open. Again, it's all about getting a toehold, then working up a new law.

California voters didn't want this. Voters wanted to see Indians succeed because of past U.S. treatment of American Indians. Now, the greed and arrogance of rich tribes is wiping out the enormous goodwill tribes enjoyed. It's got to be one of the quickest public relations turnarounds I've seen in California.

Unlike famed tribes of the Great Plains and Southwest, some of which have populations of thousands, California tribes are miniscule---often a few hundred people. Because of gambling profits, certain tiny California tribes are now made up entirely of multimillionaires.

How much money are we talking about? Two years ago, TIME magazine reported the San Manuel Band's roughly 70 adults each grossed $900,000 per year--before things really took off. Santa Barbara County newspapers reported the Santa Ynez Band's roughly 160 members each earn $27,500 monthly. Riverside County newspapers reported that Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula pays its Pechanga Band members $15,000 per month.

Some tribes have done good works. For instance, the San Manuel Band has started behaving like the rich Californians they are. Last year, they gave $1 million to the recovery effort after the October fires, and made numerous charitable donations. It was modest, given that their casino will double in size by 2006 and the San Manuels now own a piece of the lucrative bottled water industry. But the gifts represent a solid gesture and a reminder that some tribes have begun to realize they must start acting like good neighbors.

Yet only a few tribes are good neighbors, working closely with nearby cities to avert environmental damage and inappropriate development. It's no mystery why. After all, how do people act when suddenly faced with an endless supply of more riches than the average American will ever see in his or her lifetime? Unfortunately, most people act like fools.

Tribes now coldly eject members, sometimes so that fewer members can split the buckets of money. Some tribes claim they are "disenrolling" members for reasons unrelated to the huge monthly checks each member receives. This can strain credulity. While some non-tribal members do try to get on the gravy train, others appear to be kicked out on questionable grounds.

Schmit points out that the Redding Rancheria tribal government "disenrolled" a family whose members actually exhumed their mother and grandmother to prove they were from the tribe. In a raucous battle, the Pechangas kicked out more than 100 people. The Enterprise Rancheria tribe kicked out 75 members during struggle for control of its government as it pursues a casino on non-tribal land. The Buena Vista Band has been split by a vicious battle over control of its government, and thus of its casino profits.

All this because voters wanted to help the tribes help themselves.

Yet the tribes can ignore what voters envisioned. Prop. 1A clearly stated that slot machines and other gambling applied to "tribal lands only." But UCLA law professor Carole Goldberg, who approves of the big jump in tribes designated by the feds in California, and dismisses opposition to urban casinos as "religious-based," says California voters did not formally vote in 2000 on whether reservations and casinos could be allowed in the cities.

"The idea of Indian reservations being set up inside of California cities was not addressed in the measure at all," she says. Indian gaming "opponents said it meant there can be a casino in every backyard, and supporters said no, there are restrictions in federal law."

Goldberg feels California's situation is healthy because federal law prevents new Indian reservations without local support---basically meaning the governor must sign off. Goldberg oversees a center at UCLA dedicated to understanding tribal law and culture, which recently got $4 million from the San Manuel Band---another indicator of the reach of gaming money.

In fact, it's been so easy to erect casinos that California is undergoing what some call the greatest legal expansion of gambling in U.S. history. It's often driven less by local support for gaming than by a desperate need for development in places like Barstow and Needles. It's also driven by greed.

Desperation and greed can make people do bad things. Organized crime in Las Vegas and New Jersey will very likely migrate to California if our troubled urban areas end up with secretive tribal government and extremely lucrative casinos.

Each new Indian "reservation" creates a wealthy, closed government in direct conflict with California notions of healthy civic life. Indian gaming critic Jan Golab notes in his writings that tribal governments are exempt from requirements such as a free press, there's no right to inspect government records, and there's no protecting of "whistle-blowers" who report corruption. In fact, you may see the opposite from some tribes.

Under such conditions, Dymally's choice of Compton for a future "reservation" and ultimately a casino is almost humorously bad. For years, Compton has been racked by corruption, including now-convicted city officials who stuffed bribes in their pockets and used city funds like personal accounts.

And San Pablo, desperate for funds, is likely to learn an unfortunate lesson when its casino and Lytton Band "reservation" morph into the town's closed-door, backroom, replacement government.

Some Californians who thought Indian gaming was about healing the tribes economically are catching on to how poisonous the salve is turning out to be. But so far, Schwarzenegger seems far too excited about expanding Indian gaming---as if it's just another industry that pays into the California treasury

It's hardly that. Indian gaming is the only industry operated inside a government jurisdiction that is not open, and whose politicians and politicians' families get rich from the very industry they oversee.

Schwarzenegger needs to stop promoting urban casinos. He and the legislature need to ban them in California--now. Or you may indeed want to worry about one in your backyard.

fight back 20.Jan.2005 02:21

wipe the tears

I think a simple summary, outlining the procedure for how legal authorization for the proposed casino in the cascade locks could occur, would be helpful, as well as contingency options for those opposing a decision in favor of such a plan. What would it take to disrail the miserable idea of a gambling joint in the magnificent cathedral of the columbia river?
I've lived in the state since 1957. Didn't actually explore inner reaches of the gorge until 1974, though I'd been on drives through it many times. I was astonished and feel to this day, a thrill when I think of my times hiking there, in that real world. If people had in mind the experience occuring from hiking the inner trails of the gorge, and accessing a promontory by hiking there on foot along such simnple trails, looking out on the wide, relatively un-marred vistas, they might not be so quick to dismiss the "pristine" character of the gorge.
I read with dismay on the big 0 editorial page, (mon or tues) a letter written by a cascade locks commissioner dismissing concerns on the part of opponents to the proposed casino, and stating with certainty that a casino would in fact be approved for construction there. I could only wonder what is wrong with this person. Anyone wanting the experience of commercial growth, development, and it's attendant irritations need only drive to portland to experience it.
You'd think certain natural settings would be permitted to exist without designating them preserves or national parks, but, seemingly no. Everything must be developed as population and potential for profit demands. The sparsely populated, arid areas of oregon east of the cascades aren't safe, if nevada is any reliable example.
I think sometimes, of the garbage from portland, that is daily hauled through the gorge to Arlington (once a "barren" natural area)east of The Dalles (I think)Now that they've desecrated that area, might as well site the casino there.
Realizing what, over the last 50 years, has occured to the willamette valley running from skyline ridge south to tigard, tualitan, wilsonville, west to forest grove, because of the low value placed on land without revenue producing commercial buildings and housing, is very depressing. It's been destroyed in my opinion. It's now, ugly and stressful. Looking down from skyline it's asphalt roofs as far as the eye can see, broken with fewer and fewer clumps of green.
After everything west of the gorge is covered with asphalt and concrete, it would be nice if property owners, developers, and banks would leave the gorge unfouled, so people could have it as an example, and proof of what the earth once used to be.
Native Americans can never be adequately compensated for the loss sustained to their civiliztion by manifest destiny and the people applying it. They are welcome to as much money or other compensation as they able to scrabble together, but I hope the great spirit helps them find some other way to make it than a casino in the gorge. Or, maybe a casino in the gorge appears to them to be their "manifest destiny".

RE Myth #1 20.Jan.2005 12:09

Talapus

Tribal casinos may only be placed on Federal trust lands. These lands are technically and legally not "within" the State of Oregon and so federal laws apply.

Precedent 20.Jan.2005 19:15

Somebody

"Tribal casinos may only be placed on Federal trust lands."

This is not the case regarding Cascade Locks--the site where the casino is going to be built (and this is pretty much inevitable, at this point) is a private industrial park on the east end of town.

Basically, the Tribes strongarmed the state and county by threatening to build a the casino on federal reservation land in Hood River. Naturally, Hood River's wealthier, larger and vastly more bourgeois liberal population didn't like this at all, there was a big "No Casino in Hood River" effort a couple years back and...they pushed it over to Cascade Locks, which is what the Tribes wanted all along.

If the state of Oregon lets them build in Cascade Locks, they'll give up any claim to the Hood River properties. This is a total win for them, all around, as the private land in Cascade Locks is exempt from Gorge Scenic Act protections, and the Hood River land isn't.

The federal government will have to approve the building of an off-reservation casino, which they've thus far only done once, but...guess what, I'm not holding my breath on the fed shooting this down.

My parents live in Cascade Locks--I'm actually about to move out of Portland for a few months and fix up a rental property of theirs out there. I'm somewhat familiar with the place and this situation, and have been for a while. (This thing's been in the making for...Jesus, like five-six years now, at least. I'm surprised people are just starting to get upset about it, now.)

The hilarious thing is that the people running Cascade Locks actually believe this is going to save them economically or something--if it does, it'll be about the first time, ever. Gambling operations don't save little towns like that, they wreck them. If people want to take "gambling vacations," they go to Vegas. Single casinos like the one proposed don't attract tourists, they attract day trippers, who don't stay in hotels, eat at restaurants (because the casino's got a cheap or free buffet), buy at local stores or even buy gas. (Surprisingly enough, local gas stations are often some of the first businesses to go down in situations like this.) They actually drive away tourists who previously stopped in the town for other reasons.

They also don't employ as many locals as the casino owners claim when they're trying to get in--management is recruited from the national gambling industry and higher-paid jobs, like dealing, are also mainly given to tribe members and people from outside the area with previous experience. Cascade Locks residents will, however, have a wealth of plate-washing and garbage-emptying careers open to them for meager pay.

...and inevitably in state border situations like this, escalation begins, and the Yakama will have a casino right across the river in Stephenson fast enough to make your eyes spin, which will dilute any local economic benefit even further.

What a mess, all around.

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