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Casino effort goes bust

Proponents of a casino in Wood Village announced Tuesday that they are suspending their campaign and no longer will run ads in favor of the project.

Backers of the casino idea, known as the “Grange,” already have spent millions of dollars to place and promote Ballot Measures 82 and 83 on the Nov. 6 ballot.

However, the sponsors said in a press release Tuesday that not enough voters are supportive of the casino proposals.

The news was greeted by mixed reactions in East County.

“I was really disappointed,” said Wood Village Mayor Patricia Smith. “It would have brought a lot of jobs to East County. ... I would urge people to vote on it. We could still pull it off.”

Dave Eatwell, economic development director for West Columbia Consortium, said, “I was disappointed because from an economic development point of view, this project could have radically improve economic vitality of East County. I’ll just say that people who oppose this measure will eventually need to confront the problems all municipalities are going to confront the next few years.”

The perspective was different from neighboring Fairview.

“I thought this was going to be a close race. It’s turned out not to be,” said Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby, who has been an outspoken opponent of the casino. “It has brought a type of resolution to it.”

The proponents of the casino expressed disappointment as they announced their decision to suspend their campaign.

“We knew when we began this process that it would be a challenge to break the existing political and gaming monopoly in Oregon, but we also knew that there was a great opportunity to create a unique entertainment destination in Wood Village that provided jobs and new revenues for schools and public services,” the press release reads.

Later, it continues: “Despite the enthusiasm that has greeted us as we literally made our way across Oregon, in the last few weeks it appears to the campaign team that not enough Oregon voters are ready to add a private casino to the state’s gaming options. Despite this, we continue to strongly believe a tax-paying casino would benefit Oregon’s economy and schools, which are both in great need. We would all be honored to be partners in an entertainment destination and casino that showcased the best that Oregon has to offer.

“In the end, the final decision is up to voters, and we will continue to hope for the best on Election Day. We believe we have made a positive, compelling case for a casino and entertainment center that truly would be fun for you and good for Oregon. Over the next three weeks we urge everyone to carefully review the voter’s pamphlet, our website and campaign materials from both sides of the campaign and make up their own minds.”

The casino faced strong opposition from Oregon tribes as well as from current and former governors who’ve spoken out against it. A similar proposal was defeated by voters by a 68 percent to 32 percent margin in 2010.



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