“Mainely” Confused…Oxford Casino Sold to Churchill Downs

Oxford Casino

Oxford Casino

I understand the basic economics – you build a successful business, it gets good local support, it makes money, you talk about expansion, and and then you sell it for a lot more money.

But I’m still confused why this little casino in Oxford, Maine was sold? It was really doing so well.

Maybe because it needed someone in the industry to run it. Bob Bahre of Black Bear Realty, the casino’s developer, says operating casinos is not its core business, and the time was right to look for a major gaming company that could take the property to the next level.

Churchill Downs Inc. has agreed to acquire privately held Oxford Casino in Maine for $160 million, less than a year since opening, as the horse racer puts its money down on gambling-friendly states and newer properties. Churchill Downs conducts the Kentucky Derby and other thoroughbred races, and owns its namesake and other racetracks in Kentucky, California and Florida.

Dennis Bailey of consulting firm Savvy Inc., who opposed Oxford and other casino proposals to come up in Maine, said Friday’s announcement “wasn’t a real surprise…the casino was promoted as a local business, but the sale shows it was never a local business.” Bailey was more critical of casino supporters “flipping it” saying “…whereas a local group can be satisfied with a certain amount of money, an outside corporation, publicly traded, that answers to their investors, has a whole different set of priorities, not so much a priority of the local community,” Bailey said.

The sale isn’t expected to close until later this year and Churchill Downs must first win license approval in front of the Maine Gambling Control Board.

“Maine is a very business-friendly, gaming-friendly environment,” Churchill Downs spokeswoman Courtney Yopp Norris said. “It was very appealing, that area.” The company has no plans to change Oxford Casino’s name. It is aware the casino’s original master plan included a hotel complex, she said.

Oxford Casino is Oxford Maine’s largest employer. Many residents thought it was to continue as a local investment, and are hoping the new owners will keep the Oxford Community in the forefront. But many see it as a quicker way to expansion, more jobs and more help to local businesses.

I do, too. I think this will be positive change agent for the future. But then again, I thought Mohegan Sun would continue it’s expansion – instead it had one of it’s worst quarters in years. So, what do I know? Right now, I know I’m “Mainely” confused.

Oh, by the way, Hollywood Casino had no comment. Hmmmmm?

That’s all for now.



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