Maine Casino in Oxford County, Question 1 (2010)
The Maine Casino in Oxford County Initiative, also known as Question 1, was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Maine as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was approved. The measure authorized the Gambling Control Board to license a casino at a single site in Oxford County for the operation of table games and slot machines.
According to reports, the initiative dedicated 46% of net income from slot machines and 16% of net income from table games to the state. The state was also required to allocate gambling revenues as follows:
- 25% for K-12 education
- 4% for the University of Maine system scholarship fund
- 3% for the Maine Community College system scholarships fund
- 4% to the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe
Funds were required to be distributed to the municipality where the casino operated and to gambling-addiction counseling services.
- See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
Of the total 580,535 ballots cast, 15,390 were blank for Question 1.
|Maine Question 1 (2010)|
Maine Question 1 opponents announced on November 3, 2010 that they planned to call for a recount of votes on the proposed measure. The measure, as of November 4 unofficial counts, passed by 51%. According to state law, the group had until November 9 at 5 pm to file the request for the recount.
According to reports, if a recount had not been pursued a legal challenge would have been filed. "I don't think you can write a public law for private gain," said a spokesperson of Casinos No!. Casino supporters and investors, however, said they are confident the vote would be upheld.
Gambling Control Board adjustments
According to reports, the Maine Gambling Control Board needs to hire an estimated 11 additional staff members at the cost of about $2.7 million over a period of three years. The additional staff would be used to monitor the voter-approved Oxford casino. Board staff reported that specifically of the 11 needed staff members eight would be inspectors, one would be a state police detective, another a full-time clerk and lastly a clerk-auditor. As of 2010 the gambling control board had six staff members including the executive director. The $2.7 million price tag includes salaries, benefits, training and equipment.
On December 7, 2010 Black Bear Entertainment will hold a public hearing to answer questions about the Oxford Casino's current plans. The required meeting will be attended by all of the company owners and will specifically address such issues as the site location, traffic mitigation plans and community outreach.
Text of measure
The language appeared on the ballot as:
The following description of the intent and content of this ballot measure was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:
This initiated legislation authorizes the Gambling Control Board to license a casino at a single site in Oxford County for the operation of table games and slot machines. The casino could be licensed to operate up to 1,500 slot machines, and the maximum number of slot machines allowed to be operated in the state would be increased from 1,500 to 3,000. The casino would be the only place in the state where table games are allowed.
Table games include card games, dice games and other games of chance such as blackjack, poker, dice, craps, roulette, baccarat, money wheels, wheels of fortune, and any electronic facsimile of such games. The minimum age for playing table games would be 21 – the same age required for playing slot machines. Table game distributors would be subject to licensing and regulation by the Gambling Control Board, including the requirement to register each table game.
To be eligible for a casino license, the operator must own a facility at which harness racing was conducted in the 2009 racing year, under a license from the State Harness Racing Commission, and that facility must be located within 10 miles of the proposed casino. (The only facility that meets this requirement is the Oxford County Fairgrounds, which conducted harness racing in 2009 under a state license.) The casino also must be on at least 50 acres of land located within certain specified distances from a hospital with a Level I or II trauma center, a fire station, the main offices of a county sheriff and of a state police field troop, a state highway and an interstate highway interchange.
Before it could be licensed by the state, operation of the casino would first have to be approved by the municipality where it is to be located – either by the voters in a local referendum election, or by vote of the municipal officers. The local vote must be held on or before December 31, 2011. Renewal of a casino license would also require local approval.
After January 1, 2011, no other casino or slot machine facility could be licensed unless it was first approved by voters in a statewide referendum, as well as by the municipal officers or voters of the municipality where it was to be located.
A licensed casino operator would be required to turn over 46% of the net revenue from slot machines and 16% of the net revenue from table games to the Gambling Control Board for distribution to a variety of state and local programs itemized in the legislation in specified amounts. One quarter of the net revenue from slot machines and one tenth of the net revenue from table games would be used to supplement (but not supplant) funding for essential programs and services in public schools, for kindergarten through grade 12. The remainder of the net slot machine revenue would be distributed in specified amounts, ranging from 1% to 4%, to the University of Maine System and Maine Community College System scholarship programs, the tribal governments of the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Agricultural Fair Support Fund, the Sire Stakes Fund, a fund to supplement harness racing purses, and dairy farm stabilization programs. Net revenue from both slot machines and from table games would also be directed to the host municipality (2%), the host county (1%), and to support administrative costs of the Gambling Control Board (3%), which include counseling services for gambling addiction.
Percentage payments to the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe, and payments to supplement the Sire Stakes Fund and harness racing purses would cease if those recipients ever received funds from a slot machine facility or casino other than the Oxford County casino or the existing slot machine facility in Bangor.
If approved, this citizen initiated legislation would take effect 30 days after the Governor proclaims the official results of the election.
A “YES” vote is to enact the initiated legislation.
A “NO” vote opposes the initiated legislation. 
The following fiscal impact statement was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:
Fiscal Notes and Detail. This initiated bill is contingent on approval of the voters of the local governmental body where the casino is proposed. Presented below is an estimate of the potential revenues that may be generated from a casino in Oxford County and the subsequent distribution of those revenues. This estimate assumes the facility would operate 1,000 slot machines and 54 table games and indicates a potential annual distribution of revenues of $2,123,550 to the State's General Fund and $25,765,740 to Other Special Revenue Funds. The General Fund would also receive license fees of $649,900 in the first year and $274,650 for license renewals in subsequent years. Annual state costs associated with Inspectors, a State Police Detective, a Clerk IV and related costs are estimated to be $1,165,178. The timing of these impacts will depend on the timing of the local vote and the amount of time needed for construction and opening a new facility. This analysis assumes no significant effect on revenue generated at the licensed racino facility in Bangor. That effect may depend on the location of the new casino. If there is an appreciable reduction in racino revenue, there will be a reduction in the amounts of revenue distributed from that facility.
This measure was the third statewide gaming referendum since 2003. In 2003 Maine voters considered two gaming referendums dealing with slot machines at horse tracks and tribal gaming. The issue of slot machines at horse tracks was considered again in 2007.
An initiative for a casino in Oxford County was on the November 4, 2008 ballot. The measure proposed authorizing Evergreen Mountain Enterprises to operate a gaming facility at a single site in Oxford County. The measure, however, was defeated by voters with 46% in favor. The currently proposed casino measure was filed in December 2009.
The only casino referendum that passed in the last seven years was the 2003 slot machines at horse tracks measure.
In May 2010 investors Bob Bahre and his son, Gary, former owners of the Oxford Plains Speedway announced they supported the Oxford Casino Initiative. The Bahres, at the time, were investment partners in Black Bear Entertainment. Bob Bahre argued that the proposed casino would create jobs and generate tax revenue that would help offset the loss of manufacturing jobs in the area. The casino was expected to generate an estimated $52 million in tax revenue, half of which would go towards education.
In July 2010 a group formed called Citizens Against the Oxford Casino. The group included: Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township, the Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs, the Maine Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association, the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association and the Greater Bangor Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
- Gov. John Baldacci was opposed to the proposed measure and said that he would veto any legislation that expanded gambling throughout the state, unless approved by voters. Although, Baldacci said that he opposed the proposed Oxford casino, the initiative process was the "right way to go."
- Steve Rowe, Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell and Patrick McGowan - all 2010 gubernatorial candidates - said they opposed the proposed initiative at a debate sponsored by the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce and Eaton Peabody on May 3, 2010.
- The Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce was opposed to the proposed measure. According to the board the proposed measure would harm economic development in other communities. Specifically, board members said passage of the proposed measure would hurt Hollywood Slots, a Bangor casino.
According to September 2010 state campaign finance reports, opponent PACs (Citizens Against the Oxford Casino and Casinos No!) spent an estimated $62,000 on their campaign.
Tactics and strategies
- On September 14, 2010 opponents launched their campaign website - www.baddealformaine.com. According to reports, the group was funded primarily by Penn National Gaming, owners of Bangor's Hollywood Slots, the state's only casino.
- See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
- A Spring 2010 poll by Pan Atlantic SMS Group revealed that 46.3% of polled voters supported Question 1, while 44.0% were opposed and 9.8% were undecided.
- A poll conducted on September 27, 2010 by Critical Insights revealed that approximately 52% of registered voters planned to approve Question 1, while 39% were opposed and 9% were undecided. According to the pollster 405 registered voters were polled. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
- An October 11-15, 2010 poll by Pan Atlantic SMS Group revealed that 49.1% of polled voters supported Question 1, while 44.7% were opposed and 6.2% were undecided. The poll surveyed a total of 501 likely voters by telephone and had a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points.
- An October 13-17, 2010 poll by Critical Insights Inc. for MaineToday Media revealed that 52% supported the measure, while 43% were opposed and 4% were undecided. The poll sampled 621 registered likely voters. It has a margin of error plus or minus 4 percentage points.
|Date of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided||Number polled|
|Spring 2010||Pan Atlantic SMS Group||46.3%||44%||9.8%||-|
|Sept. 27, 2010||Critical Insights||52%||39%||9%||405|
|Oct. 11-15, 2010||Pan Atlantic SMS Group||49.1%||44.7%||6.2%||501|
|Oct. 13-17, 2010||Critical Insights||52%||43%||4%||621|
Reports and analyses
In September 2010, University of Maine economist Todd Gabe released an economic impact study of proposed Question 1. According to reports, Gabe's study relied on Bangor's Hollywood Slots revenue for his projection. Gabe concluded that the existing Hollywood Slots' income could be affected by the proposed casino. According to Gabe, the impact on the existing casino depends on how far people are willing to drive whether it be to Bangor or the proposed Oxford location.
In regard to the economic impact of the proposed casino, Gabe reported that the casino was estimated to collect $282.6 in sales revenue, create 2,784 full-time and part-time jobs, and produce $80.7 million in wages, salaries and benefits. According to reports, the report was commissioned by Maine Taxpayers Taking Charge, a PAC in support of the proposed measure.
CasinosNo! spokesperson Dennis Bailey argued that Gabe's study did not highlight whether the projected revenue was new to Maine or existing revenue. Gabe confirmed that he did not assess whether the funds would be new or existing but argued that if building a new casino would prevent Mainers from going out-of-state then that's keeping funds within the state.
Violation of lobbying and campaign laws
In late April 2010 the Maine Ethics Commission ruled that an advocate for the Oxford County Casino Initiative violated the state's lobbying and campaign laws. According to reports, Peter Martin failed to register as a lobbyist and failed to disclose a $50,000 payment from Black Bear Entertainment, a company supporting the casino. A complaint was initially filed by Dennis Bailey of an anti-gambling group called Casinos NO!. Martin served as the spokesperson for the Black Bear Entertainment group. Martin argued that he did not exceed the eight-hour-per-month threshold that required registration as a lobbyist. The commission said evidence proved otherwise.
Path to the ballot
In order to place the measure on the 2010 ballot a minimum of 55,087 valid signatures were required by February 1, 2010. National Petition Management was reported to have managed the petition drive.
On February 17, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap reported a total of 79,731 valid signatures, qualifying the measure for the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot. Of the submitted signatures, 17,813 were ruled invalid.
On Thursday, March 18, 2010 the Legal and Veterans’ Affairs Committee, a standing committee of the Maine Legislature, voted 9-4 to let voters decide whether to approve the citizen initiative proposing a resort casino in Oxford County. The House voted 83-59 to rejected competing measures on April 2. The Senate voted 26-8 on April 5 against the proposed competing measures, securing the Oxford Initiative on the 2010 ballot.
- Total submitted: 97,544
- Invalid signatures: 17,813
- Total valid: 79,731
- Signatures required: 55,087
Competing casino measure
- See also: Maine Calais Casino Measure (2010)
According to state law the Maine Legislature could place a competing measure on the ballot and with the proposal of the Casino Initiative - an effort to place a casino in Oxford County - Maine's Indian tribes attempted to do just that. If both the Calais Casino Measure and the Oxford County Measure appeared on the ballot, according to the Deputy Secretary of State, "The ballot would present the measures in such a way that they could vote for either the initiative or the competing measure or reject both." The winning measure would have been required to receive a majority of the vote - at least 50 percent plus 1. If neither measure received a majority of the vote, then the measure with the most votes would have moved to the next statewide election.
- One measure proposed authorizing the casino in Oxford and added table games at Hollywood Slots in Bangor and a new Washington County casino, which would have been run by the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
- A second measure would have allowed Hollywood Slots to add table games and give limited slots to two tribes.
- The third option would have allowed the state to have competitive binds for casinos with preference of one of the four state Native American tribes.
On Friday, April 2 the House voted 83-59 to indefinitely postpone a competing bill, therefore allowing for the Oxford Casino Initiative to appear on the ballot alone. The Senate voted 26-8 on April 5 against the proposed competing measures, securing the Oxford Initiative on the 2010 ballot.
- Maine 2010 ballot measures
- 2010 ballot measures
- List of Maine ballot measures
- History of Initiative & Referendum in Maine
- Maine casino vote recount effort dropped by opponents
- Maine casino vote recount underway
- Maine casino measure may face recount and a legal challenge in the near future
- Maine casino initiative campaigns begin to form
- Maine ballot measure order set for November 2 ballot
- Maine Secretary of State finalizes Casino Ballot Question
- Maine Secretary of State releases draft of Casino Ballot Question
- Two casino measures may be headed to the Maine 2010 ballot
- Maine 2009 Referendum Election Sample Ballot
- Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election, Tuesday, November 2, 2010 from Maine Secretary of State
- Referendum Election Tabulations, November 2, 2010 from Maine Secretary of State
- "Take Charge Maine", website advocating for "Yes on 1"
- Casinos No
- No on 1: a bad deal for Maine (opponents)
- The Maine Campus, "Despite passage, Mainers divided on casino," November 15, 2010
- Kennebec Journal, "Land, dental bonds on state ballot," October 27, 2010
- Kennebec Journal, "Oxford County casino proposal proves divisive," October 12, 2010
- CasinoGamblingWeb.com, "Maine Casino Investors Believe Voters Will Say Yes This November," September 19, 2010
- The Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "State Gambling Board Meets to Discuss What If Oxford County Casino is Approved," August 12, 2010
- The Free Press, "Comments on Casino Question, Anyone?," May 6, 2010
- Maine Secretary of State, Division of Elections, "Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election, Tuesday, November 2, 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
- Maine Secretary of State, Elections Division, "Referendum Election Tabulations, November 2, 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
- Boston Globe, "Backers of Maine casino hope to force a Nov. vote," December 23, 2009
- Seacoastonline.com, "New bid for casino: Referendum heads to Maine voters," October 24, 2010
- Maine Secretary of State, "Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap Verifies Enough Signatures to Place Oxford County Casino Legislation before the Maine Legislature," February 17, 2010
- The Portland Press Herald, "New casino in Maine? Voters get to decide," accessed April 6, 2010
- As Main Goes, "CasinosNo! Considers Recount, Legal Challenge to Q1," accessed November 5, 2010
- Associated Press, "Casino foes seek ballot question recount in Maine," November 9, 2010
- Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Recount Considered as Oxford County Casino Wins by a Hair," November 3, 2010
- Morning Sentinel, "Casino plan passes; opponents may seek recount," November 4, 2010
- Bangor Daily News, "Gambling board: Oxford County casino requires new hires," November 17, 2010
- Sun Journal, "Public hearing set for Oxford casino," December 1, 2010
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Maine Secretary of State, Division of Elections, "November 4, 2008 General Election Tabulations," accessed May 15, 2014
- Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Oxford County Casino Proposal Qualifies for November Ballot," February 17, 2010
- The Mainebiz, "Ex-racetrack owners back Oxford casino," May 26, 2010
- Sun Journal, "Group opposing casino in Oxford launches campaign Web site," September 14, 2010
- The Portland Press Herald, "Group forms to oppose Oxford County casino," July 26, 2010
- Sun Journal, "Coalition forms to oppose Oxford casino," July 26, 2010
- Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Baldacci Vows to Veto Gambling Expansion Unless Voters Approve," February 8, 2010
- Morning Sentinel, "3 of 4 Democrat candidates oppose casino question," May 4, 2010
- Associated Press, "Bangor Chamber Opposes Maine Casino," September 22, 2010
- Pan Atlantic SMS Group, " The 45th Pan Atlantic SMS Group Omnibus Poll," accessed November 1, 2010
- The Portland Press Herald, "Job blues cast casino in new light," October 3, 2010
- Oxford Hills Sun Journal, "Poll showing support for Oxford casino," October 4, 2010
- Critical Insights, "Maine Voter Preference Study," September 27, 2010
- Bangor Daily News, "Maine casino question a tossup," October 26, 2010
- Kennebec Journal, "Poll: Voters continue to support casino," October 29, 2010
- Associated Press, "Study Hints Impact Of Proposed Maine Casino," September 18, 2010
- Bangor Daily News, "Oxford casino might hurt Hollywood Slots," September 17, 2010
- Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Maine Ethics Commission: Casino Advocate Violated Lobbying and Campaign Laws," May 4, 2010
- Bangor Daily News, "Gaming pact lacks committee support," March 19, 2010
- Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Tribes Propose Another Casino in Calais," March 1, 2010
- The Portland Press Herald, "Gambling proposals considered," April 2, 2010
- Kennebec Journal, "Gaming Proposals Piling Up," April 2, 2010
- Kennebec Journal, "Oxford County casino proposal to stand alone in November vote," April 3, 2010
- The MaineBiz, "House opposes single-casino question," House opposes single-casino question," April 1, 2010
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