The Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians have proposed a “shared mission” that involves building a casino resort on their tribal land in Salem, Oregon, and sharing an unprecedented 25 percent of the net gaming revenue with state and local government. Meanwhile, the Siletz would split 50 percent of net revenue with participating tribes and take 25 percent.
There’s just one catch: participating tribes must guarantee they’ll never build a casino in the Portland area, according to The Salem Statesman-Journal. In return, none of the tribes would need to contribute financially to earn a share of revenues. “There’s very little downside for them,” Siletz attorney Craig Dorsay told KGW.com.
The Siletz proposal came shortly after the Cowlitz Tribe’s ilani Resort opened in Ridgefield, Washington, to much fanfare in late April. A $500 million facility in Southwest Washington, ilani is anticipated to generate $427 million in revenue, largely from Oregon residents. “Obviously the issue is every Oregon dollar that goes into Washington does not come back to Oregon at all,” Dorsay said. “We’re hoping to keep some revenue in the state.”
The intertribal casino, yet unnamed, would be located in Salem, about an hour’s drive from Portland and an hour and a half from ilani Resort. The facility would be built on the Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indian’s reservation property located off Interstate 5, exit 268. The Siletz already own Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City. The tribe is currently working to expand tribal participation in the project and communicate with community and public policy leaders about the economic benefits of the facility.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said all state tribes must be on board with the project. “To date, Governor Brown has not received any proposal that enjoys comprehensive tribal support,” her office said in a statement, reported The Oregonian. “Should Governor Brown receive such a proposal, the discussion would focus on whether the proposed casino would be in the best interest of the tribes, and of the people of Oregon.”
If tribes can reach an agreement, and the governor green lights the project, it would likely open in 2021. According to the Siletz, the approximately 140,000-square-foot entertainment, gaming and hotel facility is estimated to bring $185.4 million in gross revenue and 1,500 full-time jobs the first year of operation. A recent economic study estimates the overall gaming market for Oregon and eight southern Washington counties will reach $1.6 billion by 2021.
Unfortunately for the Siletz, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, which operates the Spirit Mountain Casino located in Yamhill County, roughly a half-hour west of Salem and some 60 miles southwest of Portland, is calling the proposal “devastating,” as Grand Ronde lobbyist Justin Martin told The Salem Statesman-Journal. Grand Ronde is already preparing to weather a storm thanks to ilani. Last year, the tribe estimated ilani could cause its revenue to drop by $100 million a year, reported OregonLive.com.
The Siletz Indians have held the land for the proposed Salem casino in trust since 1988. The tribe has a governmental office and runs Hee Hee Illahee Rv Resort adjacent to the site.