Oregon Residents Push Back On North Salem Casino


Written By JR Duren on February 16, 2022
Indian tribe receives opposition from Oregon residents for its plan to build a new casino in North Salem


It’s not looking good for a new casino in North Salem.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) held a meeting recently. The meeting took comments from the public regarding the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians’ plans for a new casino in OR.

The plan for this new 180,000 square-foot casino just off Interstate 5 in North Salem includes:

  • 4-star hotel
  • Event center
  • Restaurants
  • Nightclub
  • Sports bar

The verdict? People are not happy, and there are many reasons why.

Grande Ronde tribe says a new casino would hurt their casino

Among the most outspoken critics of the Siletz tribe’s casino plans was the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. The tribe’s Spirit Mountain Casino is about 30 miles away from the proposed Siletz casino site.

As such, the Grande Ronde is concerned that a new casino would woo customers away from Spirit Mountain. For example, North Salem residents that have to drive 30 minutes to Spirit Mountain wouldn’t have much incentive to go there if there’s another casino two minutes away.

In a statement to local news station KGW, Grande Ronde Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy said the proposed North Salem property would be a disaster for Spirit Mountain.

Kennedy wrote:

“It would devastate Spirit Mountain Casino [and] impact Grand Ronde’s ability to care for its membership. [It would] open the floodgates for private gaming throughout the state. An expansion of gaming in Oregon, like what we’re seeing with the Flying Lark proposal in Southern Oregon, would devastate all of Oregon’s tribes who rely on casino revenue to support their communities.”

Siletz tribe fires back and emphasizes revenue sharing

After the Grande Ronde made their case against the North Salem casino, the Siletz tribe issued their statement, saying:

“We are disappointed with the Grande Ronde’s opposition to our Salem Casino Project. And their false narrative about how the Casino will deter revenue from existing Oregon casinos and hurt other Tribes. These statements are simply untrue. The mission of The Siletz Casino Project is just the opposite. We intend to share revenue of the property with all Oregon Tribes.”

Siletz tribal attorney Craig Dorsay told KGW that the tribe will only receive 25% of the casino’s revenue.  Another 25% of net revenue would go to the state.

And the remaining 50% would be split between the state’s other eight federally recognized tribes.

A statement in early January from the Siletz tribe noted the revenue-sharing model. The tribe noted that the proposed casino would be the first to share its revenue with other tribes.

The statement noted:

“The purpose of the proposed Siletz Casino Project is to facilitate tribal self-sufficiency. [And] Self-determination and economic development, thus satisfying the principal goal of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Tribe expects to generate $185 million in annual revenue in the first year of operation. Growing to $231 million by the third year.”

What’s next in the process?

The BIA will now take time to consider the public’s comments along with an environmental assessment of the casino. The BIA can conclude that the casino will have no significant impact.

Or that it needs to do more work on the assessment, or prepare an environmental impact statement.

From there, the casino proposal will have to gain the approval of the Secretary of the Interior. After which the Secretary of the Interior will then give their recommendation to the governor.

And finally, the governor will then have one year to accept or reject the casino proposal.

Photo by JPL Designs / Shutterstock.com
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