Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What is Coquille proposing?

A:  The Coquille Tribe has one casino on reservation land in North Bend/Coos Bay and is seeking the federal approval for a second casino more than 150 miles away from its reservation on 2.4 acres of land in Medford, Oregon. Recently the Coquille secretly purchased more than 40 more acres of contiguous land to that initial property, so the development will actually be 20 times what the Coquille stated in their proposal.

Q:  Where is the property?

A:  The property purchased by the Coquille is commercial property on South Pacific Highway surrounded by residential property and the sports complex. It consists of a bowling alley and a former Chinese restaurant that the Coquille purchased in 2012, which is now subject to local property taxes but in order for the Coquille to construct a casino, they are asking the federal government to put the 2.4 acres of commercial property into non-taxable, federal Indian trust land status, in perpetuity.

By becoming land in trust, the property would legally become part of Coquille’s Reservation. In other words, the Coquille would never pay local property tax on the land again. Additionally once that land is put into trust the adjacent 42 acres would also be eligible to be put into trust taking a total of 45 acres of currently commercial property off the tax rolls for Jackson County.

Q:  What is Coquille’s connection to Medford or Jackson County?

A:  The Coquille Tribe has no ancestral ties to this land. In fact, the Medford site is 170 miles away from the Coquille tribal headquarters and reservation in Coos Bay.

Q:  Why is this an issue? Isn’t what they are proposing illegal?

A:  The Coquille’s attempt to put the purchased land into trusts presents several issues that the public should be concerned about. It is an attempt to end-run federal and state processes that have governed Indian gaming for decades. Consequently, its approval could result in the mass proliferation of gaming up and down I-5, and across Oregon and Indian Country.


  • Circumvents Federal Process under IGRA: The process the Coquille Tribe is pursuing to try to open a second, Class II gaming facility in Medford circumvents the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) two-part process that requires robust local government input and Governor approval. Although 5 tribes have entered tribal-state compacts that ensure the local community will benefit financially from casinos, the Coquille are seeking to avoid any revenue sharing with the Medford community under a tribal-state compact. Under this scenario, if the Coquille’s request is granted, there would be no local or state oversight or revenue benefit whatsoever.
  • Violates State Policy: If approved it would be the first Oregon Tribal casino put on land that a Tribe lacks any ancestral connection to. The site the Coquille Tribe is seeking to put into trust has no ancestral ties to the tribe. It is commercial property that has never been in trust, to which the tribe has zero historical connection. Coquille concedes as much by not seeking to game in Medford under either IGRA’s two-part determination exception, which current federal policy requires there to be a significant historic connection to the land, or another “restored lands” exception, which imposes the same requirement.
  • Misinterpretation of Restored Land Exception: When it comes to Indian gaming, the tribes must follow IGRA, which dictates that casinos can only be built on lands in trust as of 1988, unless they are part of the initial reservation of the tribe or restored land through federal recognition as determined by Congress through each individual restoration act. Neither of these exceptions apply to Coquille.
  • Service Areas are for Services: Coquille already operates a Class III casino on their initial reservation pursuant to the Coquille Restoration Act (CRA), as adopted in 1984. The CRA lists Jackson County and four other Counties as Coquille’s “service area,” but that was for the purposes of providing social services in that region for Coquille members—not for gaming. The Coquille has no ties to the land it wants to build a casino on.

Q:  Where would their casino be located?

A:  The land is 2.4 acres of commercial property – a bowling alley and old restaurant in Medford. The Coquille Tribe has no ancestral or historic ties to this property.

Q:  Three of Oregon’s governors oppose this project. Why isn’t this a closed issue?

A:  No. Coquille should not be seeking a second casino because they have absolutely no ancestral ties to the land upon which they want to site a casino. The Coquille Tribe is attempting to circumvent the rules that govern Indian gaming under IGRA, which typically require robust local input and Gubernatorial approval. Instead, Coquille is asking the Department of the Interior to misinterpret a “restored lands” exception to allow them to put a casino on land that they never historically owned or occupied. Simply, you cannot “restore” what never existed before.

If the Coquille wish to proceed under IGRA, it should be through the two-part determination process that protects the rights of across Jackson County and Oregon to weigh in.

Q:  What’s the difference between the Coos Bay Tribe having a Class II casino and the Coquille wanting one?

A:  The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians were able to open a second, Class II facility because it is on their ancestral land on their original reservation. Their new casino is on part of their original reservation as determined by Congress in 1984. Further, Class II gaming isn’t regulated under Tribal-State compacts. The Coquille are trying to site a casino on land that has never been part of their reservation and that they have no historical ties to – it has been a bowling ally and Chinese restaurant.

What the Coquille Tribe is seeking is entirely different. They have purchased commercial real estate that is not on ancestral land and has never been historically owned or occupied by the tribe. They are seeking to circumvent the rules of IGRA to open a casino in a city where they have no historical ties.

Q:  What is a Class II casino?

A:  The only difference between a Class II and a Class III casino is that a Class III has table games like black jack and in Oregon a Class III casino must enter into a compact with the State.

Class II casinos have the appearance of the same slot machines of a Class III casino and have no regulatory oversight or revenue sharing requirements by the State of Oregon.

Q:  Who opposes this project?

A:  This project has the broad opposition of Governor Kate Brown, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Congressman Peter DeFazio, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, the Jackson County Commissioners, the City of Medford, and various state senators and representatives. In addition, local community organizations and prominent members of the Medford/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce recognize the potential consequences of Vegas-style casinos up and down I-5, with no guarantee of additional local and state revenues.

Oregon will not suffer the consequences of this casino alone. In fact, the project’s negative impacts will extend to tribes across the country. That is why tribes like the Elk Valley Rancheria, Karuk Tribe and Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians of California, and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, have also opposed the project.

Q:  Aren’t the Cow Creek Tribe trying to stifle competition?

A:  No. The Cow Creek Tribe wants all the Tribes to be successful in providing economic opportunities for its people, but casinos were provided in a limited way in Oregon as a foundation for economic growth, not the only path.

The Cow Creek Tribe has used revenue from its casino to invest in other opportunities for its members in education, health care and other industries for job growth and contribution to the Southern Oregon region.

The Cow Creek Tribe does not believe it is good for Oregon to have casinos up and down I-5 – one per Tribe is enough.

Q:  This casino could create a lot of jobs in southern Oregon where jobs are needed. Why should the City and community oppose this proposal?

A: First, the job analysis provided by the Coquille Tribe is false and misleading. It assumes too many employees for a Class II facility and it fails to consider the jobs lost by state-regulated Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) establishments, like Oregon Lottery outlets.

Through an economic study conducted by Nathan Associates in February 2016, the net job benefit for all of Jackson County under the Coquille proposal would be 11. Eleven new jobs — coupled with lost local property tax dollars and increased crime in our community — fails to justify a casino to benefit one tribe and its out-of-state interests. Oregonians deserve better.