Gov. Ted Kulongoski may be close to allowing the first American Indian casino on nontribal land in Oregon, a policy shift that could prompt other tribes to consider building gambling...

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SALEM, Ore. — Gov. Ted Kulongoski may be close to allowing the first American Indian casino on nontribal land in Oregon, a policy shift that could prompt other tribes to consider building gambling facilities on nonreservation land to stay competitive.

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and Kulongoski’s staff are negotiating on the tribe’s plan for a casino on an industrial tract in Cascade Locks in the scenic Columbia River Gorge.

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It would become the closest Indian casino to Portland and cut into the market for the Spirit Mountain Casino, the state’s biggest Indian gaming center.

An agreement on the Warm Springs’ plan is “close to fruition,” according to Anna Richter Taylor, a spokeswoman for Kulongoski. The deal needs the governor’s approval because the site is not on tribal land.

All nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon operate casinos under gaming compacts with the state, whose current policy limits each tribe to one casino on reservation land. The Warm Springs’ small casino is on its remote reservation in Central Oregon.

Cascade Locks is 44 miles east of Portland, making it a quick freeway drive from the state’s major metropolitan area.

Spirit Mountain, operated by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, is in Grand Ronde, about 60 miles southwest of Portland.

Justin Martin, government-relations director for the Grand Ronde, said, “If the rules of the game are going to change, all the tribes in Oregon then would look at territory and what their options would be.”