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Maine Governor bemoans gambling expansion over spurious claims

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mainegovernor
e Governor Paul LePage has criticised lobbying efforts to build a third casino in the state over inflated claims about what the eventual casino would bring to the local community.

LePage ripped into the campaigns claims that the casino would bring new jobs and contribute to improvements in education claiming that proponents are “not being honest and upfront” with these claims and a new casino would ultimately harm existing casino properties in Bangor and Oxford.

Under state law, any proposed casino development must first be given the green light by the states residents, with a question on casino’s being added to a ballot taking place on November 7th.

Almost $5m has already been spent on the campaign for the new casino, with campaigners stating that it will generate 2,000 new jobs and around $250m in tax revenues during the first five years of operation. However the campaign has encountered repeated questions over the role that casino developer Shawn Scott and his sister Lisa Scott play in the project.

The Scott’s are currently under investigation by state officials over allegations that they participated in the funding of a $4.3m signature-gathering initiative designed to support the casino, in direct contravention of state laws on the matter.

Shawn Scott has a chequered history with casinos in the state having purchased the Bangor Raceway in Maine 2012 for $1m he campaigned for the legalisation of slot machines, which when passed allowed him to sell on the project for $51m just a year later. Under the proposals, Shawn Scott would be the only developer allowed to bid for a $5m licence to build the casino.

In a radio interview reported by the Maine Sun Journal, Governor LePage said: “This gambling initiative is not an open or fair process, In fact, it’s yet another case of big-money, out-of-state interests using Maine voters to get a sweet deal.”

LePage added: “Our casino market is already saturated, Opening a casino in York County will not draw new revenue or visitors to the state, it will just shift funds away from our existing casinos.”

Maine’s casino industry is already under threat with the development of two integrated resort developments in neighbouring Massachusetts, which could attract gamblers away from the states two existing casino properties.

The Progress for Maine campaign, who are the chief proponents of the casino project have said that Governor LePage "is opposed to a new gaming and entertainment venue given the Republican governor and the GOP’s political action committees have received tens of thousands of dollars from Kentucky-based Churchill Downs and its lobbying arm in Maine.”

Campaigners added that Governor LePage should think “about Maine first and not his friends in Kentucky, because gaming is a competitive industry and Massachusetts is gearing up to capture as much revenue as possible from neighbouring states.”


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