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Casinos make a safe bet

MY VIEWÊ•ÊState stands to win with jobs, education funds

Your editorial, 'Private casino's a bad bet for all' (Insight, May 12), missed the mark on so many fronts it's hard to know where to start.

But let's look at just one conclusion: that it would make more sense for state government to run a private casino and keep 100 percent of the revenues rather than a private enterprise that would guarantee 25 percent of revenues to the state.

First, whoever runs a casino Ñ state or private interests Ñ needs to change the constitution to lift the 1984 ban on casinos that was placed in the constitution when the Oregon State Lottery was adopted.

Second, casino resorts don't just appear out of thin air. The restoration of the historic Multnomah Kennel Club in Wood Village Ñ where we propose to build a casino Ñ into a world-class tourist attraction will cost $450 million. Do you expect taxpayers to front that money? Of course not.

Taxpayers win because their share comes from gross revenues right off the top Ñ before expenses such as payroll and operating costs.

Under our proposal, the resort casino would be required to dedicate 25 percent of the gross revenues to Oregon, primarily to K-12 public education.

Let private investors take on the risk.

If it fails, they're out the money, not taxpayers. If it succeeds Ñ taxpayers win, too. The state would receive nearly $200 million a year with the bulk of it going to public schools. No strings attached.

This is a good deal for taxpayers, especially compared with Oregon's nine current tribal casinos, which are not required to contribute a single dime to our public schools.

(However, Oregon, through tribal compacts, asks that Native American casinos give a certain percentage of their annual gaming revenue to local charities.)

Like it or not, gaming is here in Oregon.

So, the real question is, How can Oregon benefit from casino gaming?

Our proposal shows Oregon can benefit Ñ from 10,000 new jobs to hundreds of millions of dollars for schools.

Our economy and our education system just aren't strong enough for us to casually dismiss numbers like that.

We can do it Ñ and we should do it.

Roger Gray is general consultant for the Good for Oregon Committee, which is seeking to place two measures on the November general election ballot that would allow private casinos.