Southern Maine Casino Bid Stumbles as House Defeats Bill


There are a number of casino battlegrounds across the United States as both those for and against gambling clash. The latest hotspot happens to be in southern Maine where lawmakers are debating Cumberland County and York County, near where two other casinos currently operate. On Wednesday, the House voted to defeat the bill that would establish a third casino in the region.

The bill itself is positioned to establish a competitive bid process where a number of different qualified companies could put forth proposals to develop a casino either in the York or Cumberland counties. After that, voters would come into the equation and would have a say in whether or not to authorize the facility.

While many lawmakers in southern Maine are supportive of the bill – and spoke in support this week – there are a number of people against it. That starts with the two casinos who are currently operating in Oxford County and Bangor, who would rather not have to deal with more competition. They spoke out against the proposal this week and have been pleased with the result of the vote.

It seems to be a battle of money and simply how much it will take to push this bill through. Last year, a similar bill had very little traction, but this year the vote was closer. That likely has to do with the fact that the license fee was upped from $25 million up to $50 million.

Beyond the license fee, there is also great debate on how certain revenues will be disbursed. As part of the current proposal, the revenue from the table and slot games would be split among veterans organizations, the harness racing industry, Maine’s Highway Fund, gambling addiction prevention as well as a few other recipients. The town of Oxford and the city of Bangor would get a slice of the pie as well.

But therein lies the problem as well with so many hands in the cookie jar: It’s unclear how they’ll divide it evenly and make sure that everyone is satisfied. As Rep. Roger Reed R-Carmel indicated this week, it appears that there is a little bit of everything in this bill with the hopes of giving each legislator something that appeals to them.

There are a lot of different parties involved with the gambling legislation in the south of Maine and everyone seems to have different goals. We’ll see if they can get together on the same page and approve a new facility, which should generate more revenue for everyone.