PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Three former Oregon governors are joining the current chief executive in opposing a proposal to build the state's first nontribal casino.
Republican Vic Atiyeh and Democrats Barbara Roberts and Ted Kulongoski implored voters to oppose Measures 82 and 83, which would allow developers to build a casino in Portland's eastern suburbs. Current Gov. John Kitzhaber filmed a television commercial last week urging a "no" vote.
The governors warned in a news conference that a new casino would increase crime in the area while harming Indian tribes that operate Oregon's nine existing casinos and rely on the profits to pay for social services such as housing, health care and education.
Casino proponents tout a fun destination that they say would create jobs and generate money for parks, police and schools.
"Don't be fooled by the multimillion-dollar TV ads," said Roberts, who was governor from 1991 to 1995. "This is not about water features or movie theaters or farmers markets or fine dining. This is about money, big money — gambling money, and gaming profits."
Oregon's tribal casinos don't bring the same burdens as private casinos because they're located on remote tribal land, not in the middle of a big city, Roberts said.
Casino proponents have said that the issue will be decided by voters, not by politicians.
"The opposition campaign is funded by Oregon's current casino establishment. It's not surprising they would be opposed to competition," said Stacey Dycus, campaign manager for the casino proponents.
Both sides have spent liberally on television commercials touting the benefits and drawbacks of expanding gambling in Oregon.
Casinos are currently illegal in Oregon, but the state's ban doesn't extend to Indian reservations. Tribes run casinos on their land under federal law, with the state's permission.