2017-01-25 / Front Page

LePage opposes York County casino

By LIZ GOTTHELF
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul LePage said a proposal for a casino in York County will hurt the state’s economy.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced Monday that Horseracing Jobs Fairness, a group leading a citizen’s initiative petition effort “An Act To Allow Slot Machines Or a Casino in York County,” had submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the November referendum ballot.

Currently there are two casinos in Maine – Oxford Casino and the Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway Bangor. LePage said Tuesday in an interview on WVOM-FM that the state doesn’t have the “critical mass” to support a third casino, according to The Associated Press.

If passed, the proposed legislation would allow a facility with slot machines or a casino in York County. The casino would also have to be approved by municipal officers or voters in the municipality in which it is located. It would also increase the number of registered slot machines allowed in the state from 3,000 to 4,500.

Principal officer of Horseracing Job Fairness, Lisa Scott, said in a written statement Monday the proposal will preserve the tradition of horse racing in Maine, create good paying jobs and protect tax revenue.

Scott has contributed $4.2 million to the campaign since 2015, according to The Associated Press.

The proposal is worded so that it would allow only Shawn Scott, Lisa’s brother, to operate the casino. Shawn Scott, according to The Associated Press, sold his $51 million stake in Bangor Raceway more than a decade ago.

LePage called the proposal an example of the "slow deterioration of your government process" and called on the Legislature to resolve the matter, according to The Associated Press. He said those behind the casino proposal are not interested about good public policy, and the attempt to create another casino in the state is all about greed.

There have been multiple failed attempts to allow for a casino or slot machine facility in York County. The Maine Senate last year rejected a bill to create a casino in Cumberland or York counties.

In 2010, Biddeford voters endorsed a proposal for a slot machine parlor and harness racing track, but it failed to get the necessary approval in a statewide referendum the following year. In 2003, a casino proposed in Sanford was rejected by a state-wide vote.

 — Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or egotthelf@journaltribune.com. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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