AUGUSTA, Maine – A proposal to seek voter approval this November for casinos in Oxford and Washington counties and table games at Hollywood Slots survived its first critical vote in the Legislature on Wednesday morning.
After roughly an hour of debate, House lawmakers voted against placing a question on the November ballot dealing only with a resort casino proposed for Oxford County.
The House vote kept alive hopes among Passamaquoddy tribal leaders and Hollywood Slots officials that they can gain legislative approval for a “competing measure” to appear on the ballot alongside the Oxford proposal
The fate of the competing measure remains uncertain, however. The House may debate the issue again later this afternoon.
As currently written, the competing measure would incorporate into a single question the Oxford proposal and the Passamaquoddy and Bangor proposals. The original Oxford County resort casino proposal would still appear as a stand-alone question.
The 3-pronged competing measure has the support of Black Bear Entertainment LLC, the company seeking to build a 4-season resort casino in Oxford County.
Rep. Stacey Allen Fitts, R-Pittsfield, told his House colleagues that he believes the competing measure could avoid the regionalism that has doomed several other gambling ballot initiatives, including an Oxford County proposal in 2008.
“This proposal would afford the state of Maine the opportunity to consider this on a statewide basis rather than pitting one region against another,” said Fitts, who helped develop the alternative ballot question.
Opponents, meanwhile, argued that the competing measure was introduced too late in the legislative session to allow for a thorough review. They also pointed out that more than 100,000 Mainers signed a petition for force a statewide vote on the Oxford County proposal.