Tribe says Medford casino would draw off customers

Medford, Oregon (AP) September 2012

A tribe that operates a casino in Douglas County says a proposed casino at Medford would invade its market and violate an understanding that tribes in Oregon would limit the number of gambling outlets.

Last week, the Coquille Indian Tribe, which has a casino in Coos County, said it wants to open another in Medford.

But the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe says a large share of the customers at its Seven Feathers Casino Resort at Canyonville come from the Medford area, which is 70 miles south on Interstate 5.

If a Medford casino opens, the Cow Creek tribe might have to make its own push into the market, and there could be a statewide rush for new casinos, said the tribe’s lawyer, Wayne Shammel.

“It’s going to be like a casino arms race at that point,” he told the Medford Mail Tribune ( ).

Edward Metcalf, chairman of the Coquille tribe, said he believes more casinos bring more people to a region, potentially increasing everyone’s market share.

He said the Medford casino would have only machines, not card tables as at Seven Feathers or The Mill, the casino the Coquille tribe owns in North Bend along the Oregon coast.

“We’re just talking about a small facility,” he said.

The Coquille tribe plans to convert part of a bowling alley to gambling. It also has leased a nearby golf course.

A 1989 federal law restored trial status and said the Coquille tribal service area includes Jackson County, as well as four others. The Cow Creek tribe said, though, that the territory doesn’t extend into the Rogue Valley part of the county, where Medford lies.

Susan Matheson Ferris, spokeswoman for the Cow Creek tribe, said an executive order signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber during his first administration sets a framework with the understanding that each tribe in the state would be allowed one casino.