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Casino backers to wait for 2008

Proponents delay attempt to get exception for non-tribal casino

The Lake Oswego duo behind a set of initiatives that would change the Oregon Constitution to allow a non-tribal casino in Wood Village opted out of the November 2006 election Monday in favor of 2008.

Matthew Rossman and Bruce Studer hoped to build a 1.1 million-square-foot casino and entertainment center at the former Multnomah Greyhound Park site, but were quickly running out of time to collect the signatures required to get the issue on the ballot. The backers couldn't gather signatures until the Supreme Court handed down its final judgment certifying the ballot titles, which didn't happen until Monday, June 19.

'We had a solid plan to gather the necessary signatures in a short time period,' said Roger Gray, the duo's political consultant. 'But, as the timeline moved, we were evaluating our opportunities day to day.'

In order to get the issue on the November ballot, the petitioners would have only until Friday, July 7, to collect 100,840 and 75,630 signatures for the proposed constitutional and statutory measures, respectively.

Studer said the casino proponents were optimistic that they would be able to begin the signature gathering process last week, but were unable to do so.

'It's just too much of a risk to go forward,' Studer said Monday. 'As sophisticated as signature gathering is now, it becomes a numbers game, and you have to assess the probability.'

The signature gathering process would have been particularly difficult because the number of valid signatures collected usually goes down when signature gatherers are in a hurry, he said.

'We are disappointed that we're going to be delayed,' Studer said. 'It's a big opportunity lost. Two years at the rate we could raise money for the state is a lot of money.'

However, Studer said he and Rossman are excited about the possibility 2008 holds.

The petitioners hope to re-file their initiatives for the 2008 election within the next few weeks, and plan to release the names of the owners of the proposed casino by the end of the year.