FLORENCE, Ore. — The Grange could be Oregon’s newest casino and resort if voters choose to pass Measures 82 and 83 on the ballot next month.
The Grange would be different than Three Rivers Casino and Hotel in Florence and than all the other tribal casinos in the state, because it would be the first privately owned casino in Oregon. Representatives at Three Rivers Casino say they’re against The Grange and not because of the potential competition.
Their slot machines are nearly 200 miles away from those that could potentially be installed at The Grange if Measures 82 and 83 pass in November. It’s far enough away that Bob Garcia doesn’t worry about how it will affect Three Rivers Casino, but he does worry about how it could affect Oregonians as a whole.
“What this is is a money grab by private individuals,” Garcia said.
Garcia says 75 percent of The Grange’s revenue would go back into the pockets of its creators and only 25 percent would be put back in the Oregon General Fund. But supporters of The Grange say that 25 percent is still money that will create jobs and fund schools.
“Our unemployment ticked up from 8.7 to 8.9 percent in the last month. We’re going the wrong direction. Here’s an opportunity to put us in the right direction,” said Rick Metsger, former Oregon legislator.
Garcia says The Grange is traveling in more directions than just boosting the economy. If passed, Measures 82 and 83 would change the state constitution to allow not only The Grange but other privately owned casinos, which Garcia says could be a risky route down the road. Grange supporters accuse the state and Oregon tribes of just being greedy.
“The government has effectively carved itself out a monopoly on video gaming in Oregon, whether that’s state government or tribal government,” Metsger said.
Garcia says this isn’t about restricting competition, though he says a few jobs just aren’t worth the trouble he thinks this could cause.
“They can make it sound really good. They can say they’re going to be putting people to work and they’re going to be doing things, and that all may be very well and true, but the majority of revenues are going to be floating out of state to some foreign corporations and to two very rich businessmen,” Garcia said.
Both Measures 82 and 83 will be on the ballot on November 6, and if you’d like more information on the measures before Election Day, click here.