Maine’s Voters Respond – No Third Casino For You!

With about 90 percent of precincts reporting, Question 1 on the ballot was losing by a whopping 83 percent to 17 percent. Question 1 referred to the approval of a third casino in Maine somewhere in York County.

The question would have allowed only one company, Scott’s Capital Seven, to apply for a casino license that state officials estimated would be worth as much as $200 million. The ballot measure would have required Scott’s company to pay a $5 million licensing fee to the state.

Roy Lenardson, spokesman for A Bad Deal for Maine, a political action committee that opposed the casino, said in an interview that voters deserved credit for seeing through a flawed ballot question.

Progress For Maine backed casino, but was soundly rejected

“We’ve heard a lot lately about voters being tricked by ballot questions, but this is vindication of the Maine voter,” Lenardson said. “As much as I would like to take credit for this, it’s a case of democracy working. Everybody did their job, from the governor to the Legislature to the (Maine) ethics commission to the media, who dove into this story. Voters got the information they needed and they made a good decision.”

Is it really a surprise?  No to NETG.  Maine voters have disapproved a third casino before, and with the seemingly one-sided, under-handed plan by Shawn Scott & company, and the ethics committee getting involved, this was surely limping into the vote like “queen-seven of spades” at a Texas Holdem poker game.

Now Maine voters who are against additional gaming can revel in non-expansion.

Scott Thistle’s article in the Portland Press Herald quoted Denise Dionne, one of several South Portland residents who said they voted against the casino referendum. She thinks those voted against can be summed up to 3 reasons:

  1. they didn’t like the kind of jobs it would create
  2. they didn’t trust the project’s backers
  3. they just didn’t want another casino in Maine.

“I don’t want it,” said Dionne, 54, a home renovator. “Go somewhere else. Do they have to be everywhere?”

As far as Maine is concerned, no they don’t!

Binbin

Today’s the Day – The Vote for a Third Maine Casino

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.

Binbin

 

Referendum for Maine’s Third Casino Arriving Soon

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

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.

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

It seems like the casino thing in Maine is like washing your hair – mix shampoo in hair, rinse out shampoo for clean hair, and repeat. However in Maine, they are always seemingly rinsing out the dirt from Shawn Scott & Co.

Economic experts continue to be skeptical about the York County casino bringing more than 2,000 jobs and $45 million in annual tax revenue to the area.  After all, the building of Oxford Casino included the prediction of $60 million in annual tax income, but has only produced about $32 million annually.

And then there is the referendum that 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

Hollywood Casino, Bangor MaineThere are some who consider Hollywood Bangor a rousing success, and a great example of how casinos can help communities keep taxes down, create new jobs, spur tourism and economic development and generate additional funding for critical education, health care and agriculture priorities.  But, this is the same property that was asking for property assessment reduction in a dispute with the city of Bangor? The lower assessment that resulted from those talks stemmed largely from Hollywood Casino’s declining revenue since the opening of its main competitor, Oxford Casino. Rousing success?  Hollywood has had its slow times over the years.

Progress For Maine wants casino legislation

So, NETG still thinks that a third casino closer to Wynn Boston Harbor (Oxford & Hollywood are more north) will not be able to compete and will not do what the pro-casino group Progress for Maine wants.

Here’s the rundown on the 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.

The third casino’s window in Maine has closed. Another option for expanded gambling is needed to take the place of a full casino in southern Maine.

Binbin

 

Maine’s Third Casino A Bad Bet

Maine’s third try at a casino in York County will not be the charm.

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

I must admit, covering another casino proposal in Maine is much like covering the NFL’s Buffalo Bills – so much promise for the season, but a championship is just never going to happen.

In this episode of “As The Maine Casino Turns,” we find a growing optimistic sentiment that Maine can enjoy the profits of a third casino and keep revenue in the state from going south to Massachusetts.

Rebecca Foster’s OpEd in CentralMaine.com, “Casino success that benefited Bangor can happen in York County,” praises the presence of Maine’s first casino saying, “By virtually any measure, the Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway has been a tremendous success…..What has worked for Maine and Mainers for more than 10 years can work once again — this time, in southern Maine.”

Hollywood Casino, Bangor Maine

Hollywood Casino, Bangor Maine

According to Casino.org, “A study conducted by Florida-based consulting firm Evans, Carroll & Associates claims the casino would generate 2,767 construction jobs and 2,165 permanent employment opportunities, $6.1 million in lodging revenue in the first year, and at least $45 million in tax revenue.  The economic analysis was funded by lobbying organization Progress for Maine, the main supporters of the casino.” On Nov. 7, voters across the state will have the chance to weigh in and vote yes on Question 1 for a third Maine Casino.

Ethics Trouble Again?

However, in June, the Maine Ethics Commission voted unanimously to investigate the $4.3 million ballot initiative in support of building a casino in York County. Once again, Shawn Scott emerged as the fundamental party of this casino push. Refusing to give Mr. Scott and his sister Lisa Scott, being investigated by the ethics committee, more coverage than they deserve, I’ll lead you to Casino.org’s article Controversial Maine Casino Backer Finally Surfaces, Hires ‘Firm Behind Brexit’ if you are interested in more information.  However back to “As the Maine Casino Turns.”

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

The casino is actually being touted as an entertainment center, more than just a casino with slot machines and gaming options. This will feature a concert venue, space to hold community events, and more.  I guess it will mimic those other “non-casino, entertainment” venues in New England, like Wynn Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, Foxwoods, and Mohegan Sun.

Recent History Says “No”

Do we need to remind “Mainiacs” of the previous history in York County, documented by NETimeGambling?

  • From 2016 – “Maine residents have already shown resistance to a third casino in their state – even after a study a few years ago concluded another casino in York County might be feasible.  But, much like we have seen in New Hampshire, a third Vegas-style casino in Maine has been an on-again, off-again proposition – mostly off.” – Maine Casino Proposal – Again?
  • From January, 2016 – “…are they (Maine) so naive to think that it isn’t too late to compete against Wynn Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and New York States northern casinos? – Additional Maine Casino Gambling – Too Much, Too Little, Too Late
  • From 2015 – “Remember when Maine was thinking about more casinos two years ago with the immediate success of the Oxford Casino?” – Maine Casinos – Have They Lived Their Best Days Already?

The Bottom Line

Progress For Maine wants casino legislation

Maine deserves the benefits of another casino – more jobs, boosting neighboring economy, increased tourism, and increased state revenue. Trying to compete on the scale of Wynn Boston Harbor, only an hour away from York county, won’t do. Those wanting a resort/casino experience already drive down I-95 to Connecticut. This proposition by the “Progress For Maine” lobby group just seems shady, at best. Residents should back this proposed vote in November if the majority want it.  After the brief history of the previous years, and the slow progress of it’s two casinos, I’d say Maine is good with two casinos.

NETG Alternative Proposal

Plainridge Park Casino

Plainridge Park Casino, Plainville, MA

Instead of a large casino to compete with Wynn, NETG believes a convenience casino, similar to Plainridge Park Casino in Massachusetts, would get the benefits from gambling York County in looking for.  Table game players, VIP’s, will still frequent Wynn, but the low-to-mid rollers who prefer to stay closer will visit that venue – with or without the entertainment center and convention space.

If you want the gambling revenue, build something that will work in the long run, and don’t compete with the big boys. Just sayin’…..

Bin