The misgivings of Measure 75

Last Tuesday night’s poker game was a blast, but it definitely won’t help all of us.

Last Tuesday night’s poker game was a blast, but it definitely won’t help all of us.

As the economy crumbles like a sugar cube in a cup of hot tea, most anyone would be willing to win big at the lottery. For now, the idea is to allow a private casino, by making a constitutional amendment. But wait, there’s more! The creation of permanent jobs (2,500, to be exact) and a much-needed boost for K–12 education—all this provided by a taxable gaming center, a 14-screen multiplex and two water parks. It is called Measure 75 and it’s in your voter’s pamphlet.

Measure 75 promises to boost the economy and shovel money around as if it were as ubiquitous as dirt, but PSU students won’t see a dime of it. Of the allotted 50 percent of the casino’s profit to the State of Oregon, the majority of it would go to Oregon public schools, then to State Police and a small portion to programs for problem gamblers.

Not only will it not directly benefit PSU students, but it may pose a competition to the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde’s gaming center, Spirit Mountain Casino. Tribal casinos funnel much of their revenue into social services, scholarships for students and infrastructure on reservation lands.

“I’m very suspicious about the promises that they are making,” said Dean Azule of the Native American Student Services. “There are a lot of unanswered questions about exactly where the money will go.”

Azule had received a scholarship years ago sponsored by a gaming center run by the Pima tribe, based in Arizona by the Gila River.

According to Azule, casinos do provide the jobs that they promise, yet on a reservation it may sometimes be one of the only jobs available to the residents nearby. A lower clientele due to Wood Village’s competition may mean increased unemployment on native lands. The Oregon Lottery would perhaps experience a drop in revenue as well, and its income goes directly into the state fund, not halfway in someone’s pocket.

Building a privately owned casino, water park and multiplex would be taxable and put money into private hands rather than to the nine native-run casinos already in Oregon, which have a proven track record of community involvement. There is also concern that local restaurants and entertainment would suffer due to the mystique of the Wood Village Center.

An additional thought is that this privately run center could end up having less-than-local ties in the long run—what happens as the ownership changes? At the moment, it will be run by two Lake Oswego businessmen Bruce Studer and Matt Rossman—the same men who initiated the petition to call for the measure.

The petition was passed around PSU’s campus earlier in the year and now that it’s on the ballot, with a chance of being passed by voters rather than the by Oregon State Legislature—this system allows voters to have the final say, but it can also be used by Congressmen as a cop-out from trying to pass a bill.

One of the first things the measure mentions is all the great benefits it will have for the Oregon education system, which is in need of a boost. It appears that it makes a point of impressing upon the reader that Measure 75 is indeed for education funding, much less a constitutional amendment making way for the commission of private casinos.

Yes On 75 even has its own website,, and also managed to get an ad on the front of the Sunday Oregonian last week. Someone is obviously pumping a lot of money into advertising, and that is concerning.

Deeper into the measure, it also presents the state’s increasing commitment to a higher- funded police force to balance out crime caused by the casino. The Portland police force is strong enough as it is, so I hope that its increased funding would be only directed toward the influx of people around Wood Village. Still, that is unlikely. Prostitutes wouldn’t be lining the streets and the mafia wouldn’t be there with tommy guns, but the police force may get new riot gear.

There are a lot of financial considerations that come with 75, but there are still better ways of making money for the state. Money from casino revenues could be better spent at other places such as local manufacturing, Oregon-based companies, etc. Gaming is not a stable basis for an economy. If the state is in such dire need of cash, why not a slight sales tax? This measure is a way for Oregonians to add to the state fund without raising taxes.

Just because a petitioner says it’s for the greater good, or for the kids, doesn’t mean the trade-off is worth it. Think before you sign.

And especially think before you vote. ?