Wood Village casino backers near signature goal
Backers of a private casino in Wood Village are rapidly collecting and turning in signatures to qualify it for the November ballot, meaning there's a good chance that voters may once again decide whether they want to allow that casino and other private, non-tribal casinos to be built.
Matt Rossman and Bruce Studer, two Lake Oswego businessmen who are seeking an exclusive right to build the state's lone private casino at the former Multnomah Kennel Club, are pushing for two measures: a statutory amendment that would allow the building of the casino and a constitutional amendment that would allow unlimited private casinos in the state, so long as each project wins voter approval and is more than 60 miles from tribal casinos.
With a looming July 6 deadline, the campaign has submitted 104,809 signatures for the statutory amendment to the Secretary of State's Office as of May 11, more than the minimum 87,213 valid signatures that are needed to qualify it for the November ballot.
The constitutional amendment, which needs at least 116,284 valid signatures, is close behind at 112,219 signatures. Elections officials have to validate the signatures to ensure the measures qualify.
The casino campaign began collecting signatures in February. Both petitions received more than 20,000 signatures since mid-April, when the last monthly signature log was released by the Secretary of State's Office.
According to campaign finance records, the campaign has raised and spent more than $845,000 in in-kind donations. The biggest financial supporter is Lake Oswego-based Portland Entertainment Group.
If the petitions successfully qualify for the November ballot, it will be a second chance for Rossman and Studer to convince voters to allow their casino project to proceed.
In November 2010, voters rejected the duo's first statewide measure to allow the casino by 68 percent, despite a costly campaign that had the financial support of Clairvest, a Toronto, Canada-based investment firm that spent more than $2 million.
Its companion constitutional amendment failed to make the ballot because it did not get enough valid signatures.
Rossman told The Portland Tribune, The Outlook's sister newspaper, that the proposals have several changes from last time to win over opponents, including provisions that ensure a percentage of the profits will go to the Oregon Lottery and to law enforcement, local jurisdictions and Oregon tribes.
Backers of the casino have described it as an entertainment center that would provide thousands of construction jobs and then 2,500 full-time jobs and more than 2,000 indirect jobs when it's built. Twenty-five percent of its adjusted gross gaming revenues would go to public schools, according to the its website at goodfororegon.org.
In addition to a gaming floor for slot machines and table games, the casino will have restaurants, shops, hotel accommodations, a cinema and a concert hall.
However, the project is still opposed by many of its original critics, including the nine-tribe Tribal Gaming Alliance and the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association.