Maine has been a state dominated by two casinos, but it looks like there could be a new player in town. Needless to say, the two existing casinos aren't exactly rolling out the red carpet to welcome the competition.
A campaign backed by Las Vegas honchos is looking to open a casino in between Portland and New Hampshire, but the current casinos aren't open to that idea. They've started to lean on their long-existing government ties and invest heavily into lobbyists to protect them from the additional competition.
Currently, Maine has a casino in Bangor and a casino in Oxford, and they've launched a public relations war to ensure that nobody infringes upon their territory. Bangor Casino, which is run by Penn National, and Churchill Downs, which runs the casino in Oxford, have teamed with Christian groups to lobby the public and stop a third casino from opening up. This isn't a new venture to these groups as they've managed to fend off casino openings in the past.
However, casino mogul Shawn Scott invested in his own campaign recently which sought the signatures of Maine residents in support of a new casino. He opened a lot of eyes when he brought more than 60,000 signatures to the secretary of state for verification. That's part of what's renewed the debate, and as a result there will be a ballot in November to determine whether or not he's approved.
He's not the only one itching to move into the neighborhood, though, as Ocean Properties, which is a big-name national developer, has been pushing a bill that would earn them a state license for a resort casino of their own.
Of course, the heads of the Oxford Casino are concerned that the addition of casinos will take away some of their business. There are only so many gamblers, so if there are to be three businesses cutting into the pie instead of two Oxford's slice will decrease in size. What's interesting is that there is a state committee that reviews casino bills, and in 2014 they determined that there is sufficient demand to support more casinos in the state.
The battle for Maine is just getting underway and we'll soon find out whether they'll make way for a third casino or whether the current duo will hold their ground.