PORTLAND — Gov. John Kitzhaber is planning to make commercials for the opponents of a privately owned casino east of Portland.
Kitzhaber has long opposed expanding gambling in Oregon. His spokesman, Tim Raphael, said Kitzhaber believes the proposed casino would break an agreement made with Indian tribes: One casino per tribe, with no competition.
“They kept their end of the bargain," Raphael told The Oregonian. “It’s wrong to break our agreement."
The ad was scheduled to be filmed Friday and would begin appearing on television next week, said Cynara Lilly, a spokeswoman for the committee opposing Measures 82 and 83.
The proponents say the tribes weren’t promised exclusive rights to casinos. They say the state constitution prohibits the Legislature from allowing casinos, but voters can do it.
Kitzhaber, a Democrat in his third term as governor, has relatively high popularity ratings, and his denouncement of the casino measures as anti-tribe could scare away voters who may have been considering it.
Investors, led by two Canadian companies, have proposed building a casino and entertainment complex in Wood Village if voters decide to authorize casinos on nontribal land. They say the project would include restaurants, movie theaters, an open-air plaza and water park in addition to the full-service casino.
They’ve contributed $2.7 million so far, much of it going to television ads promoting the jobs and government revenue that they say the project would create.
It’s up to voters, not politicians, to decide, said Stacey Dycus, campaign manager for the casino proponents.
“It’s not surprising that the governor is opposed to gambling; that’s not news to us," Dycus said. “We’ll continue to run a fact-based campaign that lets Oregonians make up their own minds."
The opposition has raised about $1 million, almost all of it from the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, which run Spirit Mountain Casino outside Salem, the biggest in the state.