MEDFORD, Oregon — The Jackson County Board of Commissioners has voted against a proposed Medford casino, citing concerns about the potential need for more police, jail space and addiction-recovery programs.
After its unanimous vote, the board will send a letter outlining its opposition to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Mail Tribune newspaper reported (http://is.gd/X8cc5u ) Wednesday.
"When we look at the impacts to the jail, the impacts to the Sheriff's Department, the local police department, the traffic it would create, all of those things are concerns," said Commissioner Doug Breidenthal. "The county has to be in a position to be able to get fees for services."
Commissioner John Rachor also expressed personal opposition:
"I don't want Southern Oregon to be known as the gambling center of Oregon," he said.
The Coquille Indian Tribe bought a bowling alley and former restaurant in hopes of opening a casino along South Pacific Highway. The tribe also has leased an adjacent golf course.
The Coquilles have asked the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to place 2.4 acres of the property in a government trust. That would start a process that could lead to reservation status for the site.
Local governments lack decision-making authority over such matters but were asked to provide recommendations to the federal government.
Coquille officials previously have said they would work with local governments to ensure law enforcement and public utility needs are met and would be willing to pay fees to cover associated costs.
The Coquilles already operate a casino in North Bend, located 170 miles northwest of Medford.
Their proposal for a Medford casino has drawn strong opposition from the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians, which runs Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville — 70 miles north of Medford and conveniently located on Interstate 5.
The Cow Creek tribe says there is a "gentlemen's agreement" in the state for only one casino for each tribe and also has said the Coquilles do not have a historical claim to Medford reservation land.
The Coquilles say the time frame on the one-casino agreement has lapsed, and that Jackson County is one of five counties recognized by the federal government as part of the tribe's service area.
Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/