Maine’s Third Casino – The Ultimate Scam Allowed by No Legislative Policy

York County, Maine om the Mass & NH borders where the third Casino in Maine is proposed

York County, Maine om the Mass & NH borders where the third Casino in Maine is proposed

Once again, a third casino has its supporters and detractors. In December, Mainebiz reported that a group called Horseracing Jobs Fairness submitted 19,000 petitions containing more than 65,000 signatures to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office seeking a statewide referendum vote in November 2017. The group had earlier in the year failed to get the number of signatures needed to place it on the 2016 ballot.

The group seems to be led by Shawn Scott, a name that seems to carry lots of dubious intentions in the state of Maine. According to Bangor Daily News, “when Maine voters gave Shawn Scott the rights to Maine’s first casino nearly 14 years ago, he wrote his own law, hastily sold the rights and made a cool $51 million. And the Virgin Islands developer may have another chance to do it in 2017.”

Oxford Casino, Maine

Oxford Casino, Maine, closest to York County.  Stands to lose the most, even with latest Hotel Expansion.

The problem seems to be the process Mr. Scott set in motion that Maine has refused to touch over the years. So, Shawn Scott with the Horseracing Jobs Fairness group is poised to do it again, after already already putting $4.2 million into the campaign.

It would be Maine’s third casino, with Oxford and Hollywood Banger.  With an expected 1500 slots, it would be the largest casino in Maine, almost twice as many slots as Hollywood Banger.

It seems that getting a casino in Maine goes like this:

  • Get enough signees for a petition (last November included fraud concerning the previous petition)
  • Get casino approved through referendum
  • Build Casino
  • Sell it off within a year or so, and make millions.

    Shawn Scott, on the right, driving petition with one of his attorneys. (Press Herald)

    Shawn Scott, on the right, driving petition with one of his attorneys. (Press Herald)

“Both Oxford & Banger casinos were established through the state’s ballot initiative process, and both were sold by their original developers for massive profits, turning election campaigns into little more than investments…” according to BDN.

What is missing is the debates, community forums, and a competitive process to regulate casinos found in other New England states, such as Rhode Island and Massachusetts. “Maine’s lack of casino policy — first exploited by Scott — has led to isolated debates on casinos defined by gaming interests and parochialism.”

In recent battles in the Legislature, both Hollywood and Oxford have banded together to oppose other gaming expansions with the help of local politicians and business people.

maine-harness-racingInteresting note – backers explain this as protection for Maine’s struggling harness racing industry, which would get 10 percent of slot machine income in the York County proposal.  Yet, the Maine Harness Racing Association hasn’t taken a position on the proposal yet!

Opposition comes straight from Governor LePage. AP sources cite him speaking on Bangor radio station WVOM-FM, saying “Maine doesn’t have the “critical mass” to support a third casino, along with the Oxford Casino and the Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway Bangor.”

maine-lepage

Governor LePage

Essentially, this petition could be approved by the legislature without public vote.  A larger casino competing within a barely stabilized casino market in Maine without public input or approval could be disastrous for the revenue to Maine’s coffers.  As LePage put it recently, “It’s just greed.”

Binbin

Maine’s Legislature Say’s “No Casino For You!”

Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway - Bangor Maine

Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway – Bangor, Maine

The hopes of Maine’s American Indian Tribes and horse racing industry to build casinos died in the Legislature last week as lawmakers insisted that the state must fashion a regulatory process before approving any new slot machines.  Maine has been split on the idea of more slots or full casinos, since Oxford & Hollywood have done so well.  Obviously the two casinos in Maine would like it to stay just two.   Some lawmakers said they need more time to answer questions about how more slot machines would impact a state with just slightly more than 1 million residents, even though Maine is drawing gamblers from northern New England, Massachusetts and Canada.

But casino backers like the Passamaquoddy Tribe, which views slots as vital to its community’s economic survival, said that’s the same argument it has heard for more than 20 years.

“It’s just a delay tactic,” said Joseph Socobasin, chief of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township, who backed the bill to bring a casino to Washington County. A proposal that would have allowed the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians to build a casino in Aroostook County and Scarborough Downs racetrack’s measure — a resort casino with a hotel, swimming pools and restaurant in southern Maine — both died in the Democratic-controlled Senate after initially clearing the House.

Whatever the case, it will be a few more years before this is re-visited.  In that time, it will be interesting if Oxford & Hollywood try an expansion, since they argued that Maine could not sustain more gambling facilities.

 

That’s all for now.

 

Binbin