Governor bet wrong on casino gift horse


Gov. Ted Kulongoski is turning up his nose at the ballpark-for-casino trade proposed by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

He says he isn't against major league baseball coming to Portland. He's for it, in fact. He isn't even ruling out an off-reservation casino. No, according to his spokeswoman, he wants to 'de-link the two things.'

I think either we're not hearing the whole story or someone has 'de-lost' his mind. Have we elected a governor whose mind is so simple that he can't comprehend a doubleheader? Any politician who would look askance into the mouth of a gift horse as big as this one must be out of his mind. Or a fool.

I've made the case for major league baseball enough times that I don't want to go there today. We all know just how excited this town is getting about a possible move up to the big leagues. And, I think we all know by now that a casino in Portland isn't going to turn this little burg into Sin City.

Not in Oregon, where the state already sanctions legal bets on pro football, keno, video poker, Powerball, state lotteries and assorted scratch-off games. The only gambling problem here is that nobody wants to recognize that gambling is here to stay and that the battle to keep it out was lost long ago.

Oh, I guess the governor can worry about tribal gaming moving off reservations, but that battle inevitably will be lost, too.

You could even take baseball out of the equation and I'd be in favor of a casino in Portland. Particularly in the Rose Quarter area, because I think it would finally drive some traffic in that direction and lead to the long-awaited construction of a convention center hotel.

Even if you never bet a penny in a casino, you might enjoy it. A Las Vegas-style gaming house would not only bring big-time entertainment to town on a regular basis, it would, at the very least, give us one more hearty buffet.

But with all that said, I can't understand how a state official can, in good conscience, turn his back on the number of jobs these two construction projects would create. The jobs Ñ and resulting state taxes Ñ that a ballpark and casino would generate should be impossible to pass up.

No offense, Governor, but this is a chance for Portland to become a serious tourist destination for the entire Pacific Northwest. Local bettors no longer would need to hop a plane to Nevada.

And it comes at no financial cost to a single citizen in this state. It's a windfall at a time when Oregon simply can't afford to not seriously consider anything good for the economy. If I were a Portland business owner, I'd be livid about a governor holding us back.

At a time when we need major league politicians, it appears that we might have a bush-league governor.

Dwight Jaynes' sports talk show airs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays on KPAM (860 AM). Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..