This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 9, 2003 10:48 AM. The previous post in this blog was Play ball. The next post in this blog is Mr. Fix-it. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Speaking of gambles

One of the big issues on the governor's plate these days is whether to allow one or more of Oregon's Native American tribes to open a casino in metropolitan Portland. Right now there are a handful of Indian casinos around the state, big and small, good and not-so-good, but getting one open in the state's metropolitan center would be a major coup.

In the midst of the drive to bring major league baseball to town (see post below), one of the tribes, the Grand Ronde, popped up in the press and offered to pay for the stadium in exchange for the right to build a casino in Portland. Apparently the Grand Ronde is concerned about the Warm Springs Tribe's push to build a gambling facility that would be much closer to Portland than the Grand Ronde's nice Spirit Mountain Casino out toward the beach, and it was making its move publicly, hoping to get the competitive advantage by linking to baseball.

The governor said no, and although there have been bruised feelings all around (including in the mayor's office), that particular moment in history appears to have passed.

But the question isn't dead: Should a tribe be permitted to open an off-reservation casino in the Portland metro area?

My own view is that there's already too much legalized gambling in Portland. The so-called state "lottery" commission runs everything from "traditional" semi-weekly lotto drawings to four-digit drawings four times day, perpetual keno, video poker, scratch-off tickets, "breakopens," and even sports-book-style betting on pro football every fall. There are gambling machines and monitors in half the bars and virtually all the convenience stores. Little kids buying candy get to see their grandparents spending part of their Social Security checks on the hope that the Steelers will beat the spread.

How did we get here? It's truly a crazy tale. Many years ago -- 1984, I believe -- Oregonians were asked if they wanted a state lottery. The matter was put up for a public vote, and there was an earnest debate. But what was sold to the majority of voters then was just a nice, little, innocent, once-a-week Saturday night affair in which the state, like many other states at the time, would pick out six numbers and somebody would get lucky. The measure passed easily, and that was the last time we ever got to vote on which "products" the "lottery" offered to the public.

Now we have keno and sports book at every 7-11, and video poker machines in every bar, in the state. And the state is absolutely hooked on the money it generates.

If there's too much gambling around these parts already, which way does that "cut" for purposes of the off-reservation Indian casino in Portland?

And which tribe or tribes should get the business?

These are probably questions that should be addressed very carefully, without the din of baseball fever in the near background. I think Governor Ted did the right thing for now.

Clicky Web Analytics