Medford Casino Battle Heats Up

Over the past week, a series of opponents has weighed in.

The Coquille tribe operates The Mill casino in North Bend. (Manuela Durson/Shutterstock)

The long-running quest of the Coquille Tribe to open a second casino, in Medford, appears near resolution.

The Coquille first bought land in Medford, about 160 miles from their reservation, in 2012. The tribe has pushed for federal approval of a casino there ever since, adding more real estate in the meantime. (The tribe operates another casino in North Bend.)

Over the past week, a series of opponents has weighed in. A coalition of more than 50 California tribes issued a statement Nov. 15; three tribal leaders wrote a Newsweek op-ed Nov. 16; and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) chimed in on X on Nov. 17, urging the Biden administration to spike the Coquille proposal, adding that “the misguided policy at the root of the Medford casino proposal is harming tribes across the country.”

The policy Wyden deplores allows tribes to bring off-reservation lands into trust for casino development. Most of Oregon’s congressional delegation and Gov. Tina Kotek oppose the Medford casino, preferring to preserve the state’s one-casino-per-tribe policy.

A Coquille spokesperson said in a statement the critics are off-base.

“The Coquille Tribe has been waiting over a decade to complete an extensive review process that is required before Tribes can have lands taken into trust,” the statement said. “As of this date, a decision to publish the final Environmental Impact Study (EIS) has not been made by the federal government. Hoping to capitalize on that lack of action, a growing collaboration of special interests have decided that opposing a small tribe’s ambitions to achieve self-sufficiency will somehow advance their political or economic self-interest.”

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