Three months in, Oregon State Lottery revenues have slowed but continue to grow in the wake of ilani Casino Resort's debut.

COURTESY PHOTO - ilani casino in Ridgefield, WashingtonSALEM — The three-month-old ilani Casino Resort 16 miles north of the Oregon-Washington border has slowed but failed to stop growth in Oregon State Lottery sales.

"It is a slow move downward at this point," said Spencer Haley, a lottery senior research analyst.

Since the new casino opened April 24, state lottery revenues are up 2.6 percent, or nearly $2.7 million, from this time last year.

State economists had projected ilani would drain Oregon lottery revenue by 12 percent in the next two years. That would represent a $220 million loss in gross receipts and $142 million decline in net profits sent to state coffers.

It's still too early to know whether state lottery revenue will continue to grow in the face of the nearby competition. Lottery analysts said they need at least one year and up to two years of data to observe the impact of the new casino in Ridgefield, Washington.

"That is encouraging that revenue is not falling as severely as originally predicted, but it's still too early to know whether it's going to be a sustained trend or just the three months," said Oregon Lottery Director Barry Pack.

The new casino, however, has disrupted lottery sales on Hayden Island, where revenue is down 14 percent. Hayden Island's 19 lottery retailers are still a draw for Washington residents, but now they appear to be sharing that customer base with ilani.

Revenue growth has declined in places near the Washington state line, including Multnomah County by 3 percent, Rainier by 6 percent and the Sandy Boulevard/Interstate 205/Interstate 84 area by 6 percent and Interstate 84 East by 3 percent.

A majority of the casino's business has come from Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon, said Kara Fox-LaRose, president and general manager of ilani.

"The Cowlitz Tribe has committed to a large-scale economic investment with ilani," Fox-LaRose said. "We have experienced a positive response since opening, and it is encouraging to know that other businesses in the region are thriving as well."

Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau
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