On April 24th, 2017, the Cowlitz Tribe opened the Ilani Casino Resort in Ridgefield, Washington. This action sparked the Oregon-based Siletz tribe to propose the opening of a new casino one week later. If it is built, this new casino will be constructed in Salem, Oregon, about 70 miles south of the Ilani. The Siletz casino would be in direct competition with the Ilani Casino Resort.
The Siletz Tribal Confederation announced the plan on Tuesday, May 2nd. An opening date has been proposed for 2021, and the Siletz hope that all nine Oregon tribes will participate in the project. Federally recognized Oregon tribes do not have to contribute financially to the Siletz casino construction, but to share in the revenue, tribes must agree not to build a competing casino in the greater Portland area.
Financing for the Siletz casino plan has not yet been determined. The Siletz tribe plans to spend approximately $280 million to create the new casino, and they have pledged to give far more of the proceeds back to the community than the Ilani.
The newly opened Ilani Casino Resort is scheduled to deliver two percent of its revenue back to the community. The Siletz have offered to give a whopping 25 percent of net revenue back to municipal and state governments, and this generous figure may coax state and federal officials to greenlight the construction of the new casino.
If it is constructed, this would be the second Siletz-built casino in Oregon. The Siletz tribe currently owns the Chinook Winds Casino. Located approximately 115 miles from the Illani Casino Resort in Washington, the Chinook Winds is a 157,000-square-foot resort-casino. The Siletz currently give six percent of their Chinook revenue back to the local community.
The new Siletz casino would be 140,000 square feet, and it would employ 1,500 people in full-time positions. The casino would generate an estimated $185 million in net revenue each year. It would also contain a hotel on the premises.
In contrast to the proposed Siletz casino, the newly opened Ilani Casino cost $510 million to construct. Despite having 15 restaurants and a concert hall, the Ilani Casino does not yet offer a hotel for weary guests. The Siletz undoubtedly hope to capitalize on this Ilani design limitation.
The Siletz Casino plan has arrived amidst a clamor from Oregon casinos and state lottery representatives. The grand opening of the Washington-based Ilani Casino attracted many thousands of Oregon gamblers, and at 11 AM, the parking lot was completely full. The nearby Interstate 5 freeway was backed up for over eight miles.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is not so optimistic about new casinos. Last year, she recommended that the Coquille tribe’s Medford casino plans be shut down. Gov. Brown has stated numerous times that new tribal casinos would be detrimental to Oregon. The Siletz hope to change Brown’s mind with their generous 25 percent revenue sharing plan.