For some time now, the Coquille Indian Tribe has been working to create a gaming venue in the Medford area on property located at Highway 99 in Oregon. The tribe announced on Friday that the land is now qualified for casino gaming thanks to provisions of the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. This qualification is just one step in a long process but encouraging to the tribe.
The Office of Indian Gaming reviewed the land owned by the tribe and found that they do have the right to open a gambling venue. The land now has to be placed in a federal trust. John Watt of the tribe commented that the Office of Indian Gaming assured the tribe that the restored lands process is the correct way to do the process instead of a two part determination. This preliminary review is a contrast to the Medford position that the approval must be a two-step format.
According to Brian Sjothun, the city manager, a two-step process means that approval would need to go through the Oregon governor’s office. It will also be up the federal government if the bowling alley on the land can be converted into a casino as well as entertainment center. In the past, local officials have been opposed to the gaming venue so the tribe may still come upon contention from the locals as the plan progresses.
The plan by the tribe is to change the bowling alley known as Roxy Ann Lanes to a gaming venue titled The Cedars at Bear Creek. The plan still has a long way to go as the tribe must see the casino plans be federally approved with an Environmental Impact Statement completed, a public hearing and written comments made, plus a review by the Interior Department Bureau of Indian Affairs and the EIS finalized before a final approval can be given.