Former Speedway owners, NY firm listed on Oxford casino application

A conceptual rendering of the proposed casino for Oxford County.
AP photo courtesy of Barton and Gingold
A conceptual rendering of the proposed casino for Oxford County.
Posted Nov. 04, 2011, at 6:34 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 04, 2011, at 7:09 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The former owners of the New Hampshire International Speedway and the Oxford Plains Speedway are the largest shareholders in a casino under construction in western Maine, and a New York investment firm also holds a large stake, according to the casino’s business application.

Gary Bahre and his father, Robert Bahre, own 30 percent of the casino between them, according to Black Bear Realty Co.’s application, released Friday by the Maine Gambling Control Board. The Associated Press requested the application through Maine’s Freedom of Access law.

A company called Maine Funding LLC is listed as owning 25 percent of the facility. Maine Funding is owned by Och-Ziff Real Estate Advisors, a New York firm that has been involved in many gambling investments over the years, according to the application.

“Och-Ziff Real Estate has underwritten gambling-related investment opportunities across numerous jurisdictions (both state and local) ranging from major-market destination casinos to small slot route operations, working closely with property-level operators and developers to assess markets, operations and capital budgets,” the application says.

Maine voters last fall approved a referendum proposing a destination resort casino in Oxford. The facility is under construction and expected to open late next spring.

Mainers will vote on two statewide referendums Tuesday seeking approval for a casino in Lewiston and two racetracks with slot machines, known as racinos, in eastern and southern Maine.

When backers of the Oxford casino pitched their plan to voters last year, they emphasized that it would be owned largely by people from Maine.

Some of the larger shareholders have Maine connections.

Among them are Steve Barber, former president and CEO of Barber Foods in Portland, and his wife; Robert Lalley, co-owner of the Mt. Abram ski resort in Greenwood, and family member; James Boldebook, who owns an advertising agency in Biddeford; and Suzanne and Rupert Grover, who own a company in Norway.

A spokesman for Black Bear did not return a call seeking comment late Friday afternoon.

A spokesman for Och-Ziff Real Estate said the company had no comment on the application.

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