Through the work of a well-represented tribal alliance, and the efforts of Rudy Clements to get Governor Vic Atiyeh to rethink his position regarding the initiative, tribes were able to stop the momentum and keep the measure from even being on the ballot. The result of these efforts was a considerable savings in resources by not having to publicly fight a ballot measure during the election cycle.
Working with ECONorthwest to gather information about all 9 tribes and what their contributions are to both their local communities and the state as a whole has been a major component of the efforts of the Oregon Tribal Gaming Alliance. Having solid information that emphasizes the positive benefits of tribal gaming throughout Oregon is a key tool in educating the general public, elected officials, and key stakeholders. These studies have highlighted the contributions of tribes to their local economies and the State of Oregon.
The Oregon Tribal Gaming Alliance has been able to take advantage of the resources that tribes have with their individual professional lobbyists. There is a strong lobby presence in Salem from several tribes, and a coordinated effort with distinct direction from the Oregon Tribal Gaming Alliance has lead efforts to raise awareness of tribal activities. The lobby group has created an even stronger presence for tribes, and has helped to influence legislative directives that have the potential to impact Indian Country.
In the unveiling of the ECONorthwest Report, the Oregon Tribal Gaming Alliance was able to work with the press to insure good coverage and a heightened awareness of the benefits of Indian Gaming to the State of Oregon. A front-page “above the fold” story appeared in the Oregonian the day of a scheduled press conference highlighting the achievement of the tribes, and the development of strong reservation economies that have also been a boon to local communities.
Delivery of information is a key component to effective lobbying. Having an effective leave behind, or a document that can prepare or entice elected officials or journalists to want to know more is critical. The Oregon Tribal Gaming Alliance one-page document highlighting the “Top Ten Key Facts About Tribal Gaming in Oregon” was a perfect compliment to the entire ECONorthwest study and helped garner attention with media and staff of elected officials during lobby efforts in the 2005 legislative session.
During the 2005 legislative session a bill was introduced to expand the amount of Video Lottery Terminals at the Portland Meadows Racetrack. While this does not offer any direct competition to tribal gaming throughout the State of Oregon, it could open a door to future expansion of non-tribal gaming. Through a “small win” type strategy, the number of machines could be expanded over several years and legislative cycles to go from 10 to 50, then 100 and so on. This type of legislation and opening of potential for non-tribal gaming to become the norm in Oregon is something that needed to be addressed by Oregon tribes. With a letter, and a concentrated effort from the Oregon Tribal Gaming Alliance lobbyists’ the bill was tabled and died.
As both a benchmark and a message for the legislature, a budget note inserted during this last legislative session puts into writing a directive for focus upon the OSP Budget and concerns from the OTGA for expenditures in the future.
Through a face-to-face meeting and background work with the Secretary of State and his staff, the Oregon Tribal Gaming Alliance and the Oregon Association of Indian Gaming Commissioners were able to communicate their concerns and needs for an upcoming audit regarding the Oregon State Police budget and billing system. The need for understanding of each tribe as an independent sovereign was emphasized and conveyed well to the State. This meeting started the audit process off on the right foot and held to the spirit of true government-to-government consultation.