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Coquille Tribe slams Kotek over gaming stance

Democratic candidates Tina Kotek and Val Hoyle, at a campaign event in Eugene.
Brian Bull
Tina Kotek on the campaign trail in Eugene, with then-Congressional candidate Val Hoyle, October 2022.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek’s stance on gaming is hypocritical, says the Coquille Indian Tribe. The criticism follows a letter Kotek sent Thursday to the nine tribes located across the state.

In her letter, the governor writes that she does not favor the expansion of gaming, and therefore her policy maintains the status quo from previous administrations. Kotek then highlights the Coquille Tribe’s application for an electronic bingo facility in Medford, and states her opposition to it.

That’s stirred up strong feelings and resentment among some who point to a broad array of state-sponsored gambling in Oregon.

“Truly, the Oregon Lottery is the biggest gaming institution in the state of Oregon,” said Jon Ivy, Vice Chair of the Coquille Tribal Council. “Maybe there’s some political gamesmanship going on here, when in fact it is frustrating and quite frankly, somewhat hurtful to the tribe.”

The tribe says Kotek has no authority over the matter and her stance perpetuates a mythical “one tribe, one casino” policy.

The Coquille Tribe has sought federal approval for a Medford gaming facility, which would be its second one outside the Mill Casino in North Bend. Previous governors have not supported it, and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians – which runs the Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville – has also opposed it.

Governor Kotek’s press office did not respond to KLCC’s request for comment Thursday.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.