Ads for proposed casino are misleading, opponents say

Ads for proposed casino are misleading, opponents say »Play Video
An artist's rendering of the proposed Grange casino in Wood Village. (Photo courtesy The Grange)

WOOD VILLAGE, Ore. -- The battle is heating up over whether Oregonians should allow the first casino in the Portland-metro area.

Opponents of The Grange, the proposed casino, are accusing casino backers of misleading advertising. They believe the Canadian backers of the casino are intentionally glossing over the fact this would primarily be a place to gamble. Instead they said the ads promise a family-friendly resort in an effort to get voters to pass Measures 82 and 83.

If the Multnomah Greyhound Track in Wood Village is to be transformed into a $300 million casino, which would feature a hotel, a water park, a movie theater, a concert hall and restaurants, backers must convince voters to change the Oregon Constitution to allow non-tribal casinos.

In the first advertisement, supporters said, "We're talking about The Grange, a proposed casino complex." The words "casino" and "gambling" are only used once. The rest of the ad is for everything but gambling.

Opponents calling themselves "Casino: Still a Bad Idea," said the ad is proof casino investors can't be trusted.

"There is no reason to believe they will ever put in a non-revenue generating thing like a water park, or theater, there's no reason to believe they would do that," said Teresa Bright, a casino opponent.

Grange spokesman Rick Metsger said he doesn't think it's misleading to have the first ad be about a family-fun park.

"No, because it does include all the elements in that," he said. "The thing is to get people's attention about what this facility is based on their own comprehension (of) what is a casino facility."

Opponents of the casino said The Grange will drive up crime. Supporters of the casino said there will be hundreds of cameras tracking people's every move and that every car that comes on the property will have its license plate recorded.

"All we're going to do is provide more opportunity for more people to possibly become addicted to gaming," said casino opponent David Leslie of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.

Metsger has an answer for that.

"There are millions of dollars from this project to gambling addiction," he said.

Supporters of the casino point out the opposition to The Grange is being funded by the Grande Ronde Tribe, which already has Spirit Mountain Casino.

One of the primary questions is whether The Grange will actually build a family-friendly environment. Measure 83 requires investors spend at least $250 million -- an amount investors said that proves they will follow through on their promises.