Oregon Voters Asked to Approve Private Casinos

The ballot measures in Oregon for the November 2012 election are an interesting mix of topics.  There are measures that deal with taxes, legalization of marijuana, regarding gill net fishing, and two about private casinos.

The two measures dealing with private casinos are Measure 82, which would amend the constitution to allow private casinos within the state and Measure 83, which asks if the site of the former Multnomah Kennel Club should be used as space for a private casino.  It should be noted that Measure 83, does not include specifics of a plan, it merely asks whether or not this specific location would be a good place for a casino.  Consequently developers would be free to make changes to the proposed casino.  There cannot be much of a discussion about gambling itself, since there is already gambling in the state.  The discussion must therefore focus on the merits versus negative impacts of the proposed casino.

The idea of a nontribal casino presents a number of issues.  The state of Oregon entered into agreements with each of the tribes that currently have a casino.  These tribes use the profits they make from the casinos to provide social services, such as education, health, housing, elder housing, drug and alcohol programs,  as well as other amenities to their communities.  Whether or not a new casino would seriously impact these casinos is a matter of concern

Another issue is now a new casino would impact the Oregon Lottery, which currently funds K-12 education, parks, wildlife, and economic development.  Out of every dollar spent on the Oregon Lottery, 65 cents goes to these programs.  The proposal for a private casino would give 25 cents of every dollar earned to the state.  It is suggested that the revenue generated by lottery outlets near the proposed casino would decline.

Among other concerns about a private casino is that a casino in the Portland metro area would cause an increase in traffic congestion on the eastside.  Some opponents believe that a casino in the metro area would mean an increase in the crime rate.  There are also concerns that a casino in the metro area would lead to an increase in gambling addiction.

Proponents of the casino plan to have more of a resort than simply a casino.  The proposed complex would also include a bowling alley, a movie theater, a water park, a hotel, and restaurants.  The casino itself would include 2,000 slot machines and between 60 and 100 gaming tables.  Proponents anticipate that after construction there will be 2,000 permanent jobs in the complex.  The complex would be built on the site of the old Multnomah Kennel Club (a former dog track) rejuvenating that facility.  The current casinos do not pay taxes; the estimate is that the new casino would generate $100 million a year for the state.

The private casinos are once again before Oregon voters who rejected them as recently as 2008.  It will be interesting to see if private casinos will finally be approved, since Oregon has allowed tribal casinos for a long time.








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Filed under Gambling, Government, Politics

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