Casino foes abandon recount of Maine vote

Posted Dec. 13, 2010, at 1:34 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 13, 2010, at 5:15 p.m.

OXFORD, Maine — Casino opponents on Monday abandoned a recount of the statewide vote that approved Maine’s first casino with both table games and slot machines.

The recount was requested after voters on Nov. 2 approved the statewide referendum by 4,601 votes — less than 1 percent of more than 564,000 votes cast statewide.

Opponents ended the recount Monday because there was no appreciable change after more than 20 percent of the vote had been retallied, said Dennis Bailey from Casinos No!

Even as the recount progressed in Augusta, Black Bear Entertainment LLC continued to move forward with its plan for a $165 million casino and resort in Oxford.

The casino plans to submit state environmental applications next week, said Peter Martin, Black Bear’s director of governmental relations. The goal is to start construction in June and to have the first phase of the casino up and running in the first quarter of 2012.

Bailey said it remains to be seen whether Black Bear can win financial backing and find an outfit to operate the Oxford casino in light of an anticipated legal challenge, as well as efforts in Lewiston and Biddeford to open competing casinos in those cities.

Casinos No! isn’t giving up. “In our view this is one of the closest referendum elections in Maine history. Roughly half of Mainers oppose this casino,” Bailey said.

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