BANGOR, Maine — The Penobscot County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to sign on to a letter addressed to a legislative committee from the Bangor City Council expressing support for allowing Hollywood Slots to add gaming tables at its Main Street facility.
“I would support it,” said Commissioner Peter Baldacci of Bangor. “The addition of table games would result in more and better jobs and would benefit the region more by bringing more tourists here than slots do.”
Baldacci is the older brother of Gov. John Baldacci. The governor opposes any expansion of gambling in Maine unless it is approved by the voters, as the creation of Hollywood Slots was 5½ years ago.
“It would be good for the city of Bangor,” Commissioner Tom Davis of Kenduskeag agreed. “Table games are no worse than what we have now. It won’t directly help the county, but it would help the city of Bangor, and it is 25 percent of our tax base.”
The commissioners signed the letter at the behest of John Osborne, general manager of Hollywood Slots. He made the request to commissioners on Feb. 9.
The county and city’s support of a proposal before the Legislature to allow gaming tables at Hollywood Slots may be a moot point — at least for the rest of this year.
The Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee on Thursday recommended to the Appropriations Committee by a vote of 6-4 that Hollywood Slots not be allowed to add gaming tables to its operation.
Although the majority of committee members last week appeared to support the concept of granting the Bangor firm’s request for table games, they disagreed on the specifics, the Bangor Daily News has reported. Concerns also have been expressed about trying to go forward on Hollywood Slots’ plan before a likely vote this fall on a proposed casino in Oxford County.
The letter commissioners agreed to endorse was dated Feb. 4 and signed by Richard I. Stone, chairman of the Bangor City Council. It was addressed to Sen. Nancy B. Sullivan, D-Biddeford, and Rep. Pamela Jabar Trinward, D-Waterville, the co-chairwomen of the committee.
“We believe that Hollywood Slots has brought people to the city to the benefit of other businesses in the area,” the letter states. “We have seen investments in and improvements to existing businesses in the vicinity of Hollywood Slots as well as new businesses. The introduction of table games will increase the number of visitors to Hollywood Slots and the city of Bangor.
“In addition to the benefits that introduction of table games at Hollywood Slots will bring to the City of Bangor and our region,” the letter continues, “it will generate increased revenue to the state of Maine, an important financial consideration in these tough economic times.”
Hollywood Slots officials have estimated table games could generate $8.3 million for the facility annually and roughly $1.3 million for the state’s General Fund, according to a report published last week in the Bangor Daily News. Osborne has estimated he would hire 130 additional people to support the table games and 40 to 50 more for the hotel and food services side of the operation if gaming tables were allowed at Hollywood Slots.