SUCCESS: Gorge Casino Stopped!

The proposed casino site in Cascade Locks, OR, as seen from Table Mountain. (Photo (c) Chris Carvalho, http://www.lensjoy.com)

Cascade Locks lets Casino Agreement Expire

The epic, twelve-year battle to stop a large casino resort from being built in the heart of the Columbia Gorge may have finally come to a quiet ending on January 5, 2012 when the Port of Cascade Locks decided to allow its agreement with the Warm Springs Tribes to expire. 

In 2009, the Warm Springs Tribes and the Port of Cascade Locks entered into a purchase and lease option agreement covering 60 acres owned by the Port.  If exercised by the Tribes, the option agreement required the Port to sell 25 acres of the property to the Tribes for the sole purpose of building an off-reservation casino and to lease an additional 35 acres for ancillary development, including a hotel, restaurants, and parking facilities. 

The expiration of the option agreement means the end of the pending application for a tribal casino and hotel complex sprawling over 60 acres along the Columbia River.  Without the land in ownership or under option, the Tribes’ application for a trust land transfer and off-reservation casino is incomplete and cannot be approved by the Department of Interior.

The Port’s property has sat idle for twelve years while the Tribes and the Port pursued a long-shot proposition of gaining approval for the highly controversial project.  Along the way, Tribal representatives kept assuring the Port that the casino was a “done deal” in order to keep the Port interested. 

In reality, it would have taken a perfect alignment of several factors for the casino to be approved.  In 2011, Port Commissioners realized that the prospects for casino approval within the foreseeable future were infinitesimally small and decided to finally move on. 

Meanwhile, the Warm Springs Tribes have gone "all in” to build a new casino on the Warm Springs Reservation along Highway 26 and have publicly touted the advantages of bolstering the local economy and creating jobs by building on the Tribes' 640,000-acre reservation.  The new casino is expected to provide 280 jobs for tribal members and generate up to $29 million in annual revenue for the Tribes.

Friends of the Columbia Gorge supports the Port’s decision to move on and also wishes the Warm Springs Tribes great success with their new casino located on Highway 26.

For more information please contact Conservation Organizer Ryan Rittenhouse at ryan@gorgefriends.org.


Links

Read about the devastating effects a casino would have on Gorge resources.

Read about the history of the opposition to a Gorge casino proposal.


Media

Oregon candidates for governor join in opposing Columbia Gorge casino
May 4, 2010, The Oregonian
Odds grow longer for Oregon's first off-reservation casino in the heart of the Gorge.

Casino: Now it's up to Kitzhaber
Jan. 8, 2010, Hood River News - Cascade Locks decision delayed, pushing timeframe to new governor, who has said he won't endorse the plan

Environmental coalition forms to fight Gorge casino
August 3, 2009, The Oregonian
A coalition of environmental groups that includes Greenpeace and the National Audubon Society has emerged to fight a proposed casino in the Columbia Gorge.