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Proposed Medford casino: The letters Pt. 2

, Written by Kyle Aevermann, Posted: Fri, April 25 2014 at 6:31 PM, Updated: Mon, April 28 2014 at 9:45 PM

Medford, Ore. -- On Thursday night, NBC 5 revealed the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians offered to pay 110% of what the Coquille Indian Tribe paid for the Medford properties for the use of a class 2 casino because they believe it would hurt their own casino.

They also say a Medford casino could potentially hurt the Rogue Valley's economy.

The Coquille however, say they will help the economy.

In an e-mail sent to NBC 5 News on Friday the Coquille Tribe said they are not discussing the issue out of respect for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and their process.

The tribe has however spoken in the past and previously said, "This has been identified through the Coquille Restoration Act as an area that the tribe can take land and put into trust and actually have a casino."

The Coquille's are entitled to trust land from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Jackson County, but under certain guidelines.

But, the Cow Creek say this isn't the Coquille's territory to take over.

"It's a jurisdictional issue," said Cow Creek CEO Michael Rondeau.

"We're a tribe that is located here in Southern Oregon. Douglas, Joesphine and Jackson County are our aboriginal territories. The territories that historically where our ancestors have grown up and lived."

The two tribes exchanged a series of letters following the Coquille's purchase. In the Cow Creek's last letter to the Coquille on the matter, they write that opening a Medford casino would have a direct impact on the economic security and sustainability of their tribe.

But one of the largest impacts a Medford casino could have is actually on the Oregon State Lottery.

In 2010, ECONorthwest, a economic consulting firm with headquaters in Portland, did a lottery impact study for a possible Portland casino.

The Cow Creek asked them to use that same methodology for a possible Medford casino.

According to that report, a class 2 casino in Medford would take away 29.1 million dollars in revenue from the state.

Coquille chief Ken Tanner previously told NBC the casino would help the local economy.

"We're going to grow the casino consistent with the community that's around us, involve the community around us," said Tanner.

In the state of Oregon, each tribe is allowed only one Class 3 Casino, which includes slots and table games.

The Coquille have the Mill Casino in North Bend, and the Cow Creek have 7 Feathers in Canyonville.

But tribes can have an unlimited amount of Class 2 Casinos, which is defined as bingo-style gaming, with many of them looking quite similar to a Class 3 slot machine.

A Class 2 Casino, like the proposed one in Medford, could eventually turn into a Class 3 Facility.

In fact, in 2012, Coquille Chief Tanner said they have long term concerns about the Mill Casino because of a large-scale earthquake that scientists say could hit our region at any time.

"As a result of that we believe that the infrastructure where we are now is going to be completely destroyed. While we have survived many difficult times, we don't believe we could survive that," Tanner said in 2012. 

Survival or not, the final decision now lies in the hands of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Both sides are digging in for a fight that could last years.

There is no timeline when a final ruling could come down.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Kyle Aevermann

Kyle Aevermann reports weekdays and anchors NBC 5 News Weekends. He joined NBC 5 News in March 2012 as a morning producer and reporter. Prior to joining KOBI, Kyle interned at KISL-FM on Catalina Island, CA. He was also a regular contributor to CNN's citizen journalism program.

Originally from the Chicago-land area, Kyle moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2009 to work in the social media industry. Kyle enjoys hiking, traveling, learning about cultures, and has a serious love for food.

Catch Kyle anchoring weekends on NBC 5 News at 6pm and 11pm.

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