Yreka, California Casino Could Cost Neighbors 22 percent

The casino that the Karuk Tribe of Yreka is building in Northern California could lose 22 percent or more of its revenues if the Coquille Indian Tribe is allowed to build its casino resort in Medford, across the state line in Oregon. The figures come from a report being done by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Karuk Tribe of Yreka, California expects to see business at the casino it is building drop as much as 22 percent if the Coquille Indian Tribe opens its casino resort in Medford, Oregon.

Karuk Chairman Buster Atteberry commented last seek, “We have to face the fact that the casino business is somewhat saturated.”

The Mail-Tribune made a public records request for a Bureau of Indian Affairs administrative draft environmental impact statement analyzing the Coquille tribe’s casino proposal, including its impact on revenue of tribes in neighboring reservations.

The Coquille tribe proposes to build the Cedars at Bear Creek along Highway 99 in a converted bowling alley and former restaurant and fill it with 650 slot machines. It would not have table games.

According to the study the worst hit would be the Yreka casino. The next worst would be the Kla-Mo-Ya Casino in Chiloquin at 16.5 percent and 13.2 percent at the Seven Feathers, operated by the Cow Creek Tribe.

Cow Creek CEO Michael Rondeau thinks that percentage is greatly underestimated. He puts the losses at closer to 50 percent. If that happens the tribe might default on its bonds, he said. “The saturation of gaming would be bad for everyone,” Rondeau told the Mail-Tribune.

For its part the Coquille tribe says it wants to build another casinos to make up for lost revenues at its Mill Casino in Coos Bay. It prefers a new casino to expanding its existing casino, because it is estimated a new casino would generate $32 million more, while an expansion would only tick up revenues by $5 million.

Coquille tribal chairman Brenda Meade concedes that her tribe’s new casino would harm surrounding casinos. “Do I think there will be effects on other folks? Yes, but I don’t know how to quantify that,” she said. However, she says her tribe welcomed competition from the Three Rivers Casino Coos Bay even though it adversely affected its business.

She said Medford businesses should support the additional casino, instead of opposing it. “This project is going to be really cool for Medford. I’m not sure what the hate is, for sure. I’m not seeing that in mainstream Medford, other than the well-funded opposition from Cow Creek.”