Medford to weigh in on Coquille Tribe’s 2nd casino effort in the city

MEDFORD, Ore. —The city of Medford will once again discuss the Coquille Tribe’s efforts to build a casino in south Medford.

The tribe operates the Mill Casino in north Bend. Traditionally it’s one casino a tribe. Bringing a casino to the Rogue Valley is an effort nearly 10 years in the making. But now with new leadership at the federal, state, and local level, the Coos County tribe hopes to see a different outcome.

For the first time in years, the city of Medford will once again consider the Coquille Tribes efforts to build a casino right here in Medford on South Pacific Highway.

“It’s a really complicated procedural history to this matter,” said city of Medford attorney, Eric Mitton.

The coastal-based tribe’s first effort was opposed locally, by Governor Kate Brown, and ultimately what mattered most, the federal government in 2020. It just opened Margaritaville’s Compass Hotel next to Roxy Ann Lanes this summer. Now it wants to change the bowling alley, into a class-2 casino, which means no table games.

The Coquille Tribe is asking the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to place land into trust to develop the casino. Mitton says the application has been back and forth for the last decade.

“There have been legal disputes about the proper methodology for making this determination, at one point it appeared the Bureau of Indian Affairs had denied the application and then reactivated the application,” said Mitton.

The tribe wants to remodel Roxy Ann Lanes bowling alley into a 30,000-square-foot gaming facility. The proposal includes a 16,000-square-foot gaming floor with 650 gaming machines, a bar, and support services. In December, Brenda Meade the tribe’s chair spoke about the development in an online public hearing.

“Our goal has been to open a new venue which will add to our exciting entertainment campus in south Medford creating jobs, entertainment choices for our community, and an investment that will benefit all Jackson County residents,” said Meade.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has come out with a 250-page environmental impact statement. According to Mitton, it includes impacts, including transportation, calls for service, and land development.

On Thursday the Medford City Council will discuss the proposal and plans moving forward but no vote will be taken.

“This is the city of Medford’s opportunity to make comments on those impacts if this proposal goes forward, what are impacts that we’ve highlighted, and what mitigations are appropriate given this particular development,” said Mitton.

By the end of February, the city will provide written comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Mitton says ultimately the federal government will decide if the land is placed into trust.

We reached out to the Bureau of Indian Affairs but have not heard back. The Coquille Tribe was unavailable for an interview Wednesday.

You can find the Environmental Impact Statement draft here.

Here’s how you can submit your comments on the environmental impact. Send your emails to [email protected]

Be sure to put deIs comments Coquille Tribe Medford Gaming Facility Project in the subject line. Comments have to be submitted within 45 days after the EPA publishes its notice of availability in the federal register.

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Jenna King is the 6pm anchor and our Feature Reporter at 10pm and 11pm for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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