April 21, 2018
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Table games benefit all of Eastern Maine

By Andy Hamilton and Rebecca Hupp, co-chairs, Mobilize Eastern Maine

On Nov. 8, a question will be put before voters in Penobscot County asking if they would like to approve table games at Hollywood Slots.

The question, which will be on the back side of the ballot, seems simple enough. It asks if area voters would like to expand the entertainment options at Maine’s only operating casino.

The potential benefits of this “simple question” stretch far beyond more gaming options.

First, there are the jobs. As a result of adding table games to Hollywood Slots, we can expect to see 89 new jobs in Penobscot County. These jobs will add up to about $4 million in salaries and benefits.

We are still in an economic slump – not just in Maine, but nationally. We hear about employers adding five jobs here and 10 jobs there and it’s good news. Being able to add 89 jobs with a simple “yes” vote holds the potential for great news. It’s an easy way to provide help to our

local economy.

The area also stands to benefit from additional revenue that will be dedicated to state government. There is no question that budgets are tight in just about every government agency.

The approval of table games will require Hollywood Slots to submit a one-time payment of $100,000 for each table game to the state. That will amount to $1.4 million based on the plans to add 14 table games. Going forward, Hollywood Slots expects to pay an additional $1 million annually in taxes, also going to the state, providing much needed revenues to continue to fund

important state programs and services.

Bangor voters approved a new state-of-the-art arena and convention center this past June. Many folks living outside of Bangor knew they could not vote in the citywide vote, and asked how they could help during the campaign. The time to help is now with a “yes” vote for table games on Nov. 8.

The arena alone is expected to create hundreds of jobs, and will contribute to increasing tourism numbers for all of Penobscot County and Eastern Maine. Add that to the 89 jobs which will be created at Hollywood Slots and a “yes” vote will mean several hundred jobs for several hundred families in Eastern Maine, earning a good paycheck and contributing to the community.

This region has seen a recent influx of entertainment and recreation activity. In just the last decade we have seen the creation of the American Folk Festival, the KahBang Music and Arts Festival, the Waterfront Concert Series and Hollywood Slots.

Our new-found entertainment options are coupled with increased efforts to promote recreation within our existing natural resources: whitewater rafting, hiking, biking, swimming, canoeing, skiing and snowmobiling. The combination of natural resource-based recreation and growing entertainment options are making Eastern Maine a first-class, four-season destination for tourists, and an even better place to be for those of us lucky enough to live here.

We encourage Penobscot County residents to vote on Nov. 8, and to “flip the ballot” and vote “yes” for table games for Penobscot County.

Andy Hamilton and Rebecca Hupp are co-chairs of Mobilize Eastern Maine, on whose behalf this column was written.

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