A rendering of the proposed York County Casino, courtesy of the Portland Press Herald

Well, today’s the day that Maine decides if York County will be the site for Maine’s third casino. The referendum is written to allow only one person, Shawn Scott, to apply for a permit to build a casino at an unspecified location in York County. Scott is an international gambling entrepreneur who won voter approval to add slot machines to Bangor’s struggling horse track in 2003. He then sold those rights to Penn National – which still operates what is now Hollywood Casino – for $51 million as regulators scrutinized his businesses and associates.  For a related articles, click on Maine’s Third Casino A Bad Bet  and Maine’s Third Casino – The Ultimate Scam Allowed by No Legislative Policy

Shawn Scott, on the right, with attorney Courtesy Herald Press

THE CRITICS

CRITIC #1 – A political action committee called A Bad Deal for Maine that opposes a ballot initiative asking voters to approve a casino in York County has spent just over $600,000 on its campaign, according to state election finance reports. The PAC’s expenditures were funded almost entirely by $700,000 in donations from Black Bear Development LLC, the business name for Oxford Casino, which is owned by the Kentucky-based Churchill Downs Inc., the Maine casino that could lose most from the competition.

CRITIC #2 – Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage is urging voters to oppose a ballot initiative to build a casino in York County, saying it was all about greed. LePage said. “It’s a stacked deck. Once again, Maine’s referendum process has been hijacked by big money, out-of-state interests hoping to pull the wool over your eyes.”

The Sockalexis Bingo Palace on Passamaquody reservation. BANGOR DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO BY JOHN CLARK RUSS

CRITIC #3 – Leaders of the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes spoke out Thursday against the proposed York County casino. “If approved, Question 1 would stand to directly injure the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Nation by significantly reducing financial support that the tribes currently receive under a voter-approved revenue sharing agreement with Oxford Casino,” said Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis, Passamaquoddy-Indian Township Chief William Nicholas and Passamaquoddy-Pleasant Point Chief Ralph Dana.

CRITIC #4 – We at NETG still think that a third casino closer to Wynn Boston Harbor (Oxford & Hollywood are more north) will not be able to compete with the Mega-Resort/Casino and will not do what the pro-casino group Progress for Maine expects.

 

PRO CASINO GROUPS

Progress For Maine wants casino legislation

PRO #1 – One of Maine’s four federally recognized Indian tribes, the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, endorsed Question 1 last month following negotiations between tribal leaders and Scott. Scott’s Progress for Maine campaign agreed to help “create new non-gaming economic development opportunities for the tribe” of roughly 1,200 members in northern Maine. In announcing their support for Question 1, the Micmac leaders pointed out that revenues from the Oxford Casino only flow to the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes. The revenue “cascade” from Hollywood Casino in Bangor does not include any specific allocation to tribes.

 

 

 

PRO #2 – Progress For Maine launched a new Ad condemning Kentucky’s Churchill Downs for meddling in Maine election on Question 1.  Progress for Maine is dedicated to economic development and job growth in York County and across the entire state through the establishment of a new gaming and entertainment destination in the York County area. Progress for Maine supports a “Yes” vote on Question 1 on the statewide ballot in November. For more information visit www.ProgressforMaine.com

The full ad can be viewed here.

ETHICS REGULATORS TAKE ACTION

Maine ethics regulators on Friday levied $500,000 in fines against four political committees backing the York County casino referendum. The penalties were reduced from a sum of $4.6 million after considering mitigating factors.

VOTER TURNOUT?

According to  Scott Thistle of the Portland Press Herald, “a relatively small number of voters will decide whether to expand Medicaid and approve a casino in York County in November…..But if 2017 ends up looking anything like 2011 – the last year voters had no statewide races to decide except ballot questions on casinos – then less than half of the state’s registered voters will cast ballots.”  There is still a question whether the Pro Casino will get permission for absentee voting, and reeking havoc with the low voter turnout. Overall voter turnout in 2011 was 43 percent, as voters decided against two casino ballot questions for Lewiston and Biddeford.

As of this week, a poll shows 49% against, 40% for, (11% undecided), which is still close. A sudden surge of voters from either side could make a big difference in the turnout.

Here’s the rundown on how to vote:

Maine Question 1, the Casino or Slot Machines in York County Initiative, is on the ballot in Maine as a indirect initiated state statute on November 7, 2017.

“yes” vote supports this initiative to authorize the Maine Gambling Control Board to accept an application for a license to operate slot machines or a casino in York County, Maine.
“no” vote opposes this initiative to authorize the Maine Gambling Control Board to accept an application for a license to operate slot machines or a casino in York County, Maine.

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