AUGUSTA, Maine — The Senate passed a bill Thursday to clarify Maine gaming law so mileage between casinos would be measured in road miles.The bill removes a potential hurdle for the Oxford casino in development by Black Bear Entertainment. Previously, gaming law did not specify whether the mandatory 100 miles between casinos and slot machine facilities were to be measured by Department of Transportation most-traveled routes or in a straight line from point to point.“We believed that was going to be the end result, but we’re happy now that it’s put behind us and we can move forward,” Black Bear spokesman Peter Martin said.In January, an attorney representing Scarborough Downs sent a letter to the Gambling Control Board pointing out the ambiguity on measuring distance between two casinos. The letter argued that because other distances in the casino referendum specified road miles, the 100-mile rule should be measured in straight-line miles by default.The site in Oxford chosen by Black Bear Entertainment is about 94 straight-line miles from Hollywood Slots in Bangor, but is about 125 miles as measured by the DOT most-traveled route.At a Gambling Control Board meeting in February, some board members said they weren’t sure how they would interpret the mileage law, and said the decision might come down to whether a straight-line interpretation would make an Oxford casino impossible under the referendum’s language.The bill, LD 677, puts the issue to bed. Gov. Paul LePage has stated previously that he supports the bill and is expected to sign it, Martin said.See more news from the Sun Journal at

Byline:Tony Reaves, Sun Journal