There wasn’t much polling coming out of Maine. As a result, how the vote would go was anyone’s guess.
But when Mainers went to the polls on Tuesday it wasn’t even close. With over 90 percent of precincts reporting, the casino proposal was thoroughly rejected. It lost by an 83-17 margin.
The final vote tally belies how contentious the campaign has been.
But maybe it shouldn’t have been too surprising. Last year, New Jerseans voted down a referendum that would have authorized casinos in North Jersey by a similar margin.
The Maine casino campaign
The campaign to bring a casino to York County, Maine was hotly debated and well-funded. In fact, the pro-casino side spendt some $9 million, according to the Associated Press.
The campaign was also fraught with accusations and scandal.
Opponents of the casino called it an act of self-enrichment. The casino’s main backer, Shawn Scott and his company Capital Seven LLC, had exclusive rights to running the casino baked into the language of the proposal.
There were also accusations that the casino referendum bought its way on to the ballot by paying Mainers for their signatures.
The pro-casino side accused the Governor and other opponents of being a mouthpiece for the state’s current casinos and Churchill Downs, which runs Oxford Casino in Oxford, Maine.
There was a record-setting fine of $500,000 imposed by the Maine Ethics Commission following an investigation into disclosure forms filed (or not filed properly) by pro-casino groups.
Shawn Scott’s sister, Lisa Scott, resigned her role with the campaign due to the ethics investigation.
Maine’s other two casinos
Capitalizing on its proximity to summer vacation spots like Old Orchard Beach, Ogunquit, and Kennebunkport, as well as pulling from the nearby population centers of Portland, Maine and Manchester, New Hampshire, the proposed York County casino would have been Maine’s first resort-style casino.
The state’s other two casino properties are the Penn National-operated Hollywood Casino, Hotel and Raceway in Bangor and the aforementioned Oxford Casino. Both are around 30,000 square feet in size, with less than 1,000 slot machines and a smattering of table games.
Neither is really a destination casino.
Hollywood Casino has a 150-room hotel, the only poker room in the state, some entertainment options. it also has live and simulcast racing. However, the casino is only open from 8 a.m. – 3 a.m.
Oxford Casino has less to offer in the way of amenities, but it is open 24 hours.
For the time being, they will continue to be the only casinos in the Pine Tree State.