Maine Oxford Casino Initiative, Question 1 (2010)

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The Maine Oxford Casino Initiative, Question 1 appeared on the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot in Maine as an initiated state statute where it was approved.

The measure called for a casino in Oxford, Maine.[1][2] On February 17, 2010 the Maine Secretary of State announced that enough signatures had been submitted to qualify the measure for the statewide ballot.[3]

A legislative committee's 9-4 vote against an alternative measure moved the Oxford casino initiative to the November ballot on Thursday, March 18, 2010. On April 6, the Senate rejected initiative and proposed competing measures. The House rejected the measures only days prior, securing the initiative for the November ballot.[4][5]

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:[6]

  • 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.[6]

Aftermath

Vote recount

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.[7]

On November 9, deadline day, opponents filed petitions with more than 150 signatures to official request a recount.[8]

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!.[9][10] Casino supporters and investors, however, said they are confident the vote would be upheld.[8]

The recount began December 2, 2010 and was dropped by opponents on December 13, 2010.

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.[11]

Public hearing

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.[12]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
Question 1 (Oxford Casino)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 284,934 50.4%
No280,21149.6%

Official election results via the Maine Secretary of State.

Text of measure

The text that appeared on the 2010 ballot, according to Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, read as follows:[13][14][15][16]

Do you want to allow a casino with table games and slot machines at a single site in Oxford County, subject to local approval, with part of the profits going to specific state, local and tribal programs?

Background

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 appeared 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[17]. 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.

Support

"Yes on 1" campaign logo

Black Bear Entertainment was the proponent of the measure. According to the company a casino in Oxford County would help create approximately 1,000 jobs and boost education funding in the state.[18]

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.[19]

Donors

According to September 2010 campaign finance reports proponents, the Black Bear Entertainment PAC, spent more than $515,000 on their campaign.[20]

Opposition

Casinos No, was a group that represented opponents of the proposed measure. The group argued that gambling would harm the state's image and would draw money out of the state.[18]

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.[21][22]

  • 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."[23]
  • 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.[24]
  • 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.[25]

Donors

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.[20]

Tactics and strategies

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Maine ballot measures, 2010

Opposition

  • Brunswick's The Time Record opposed Question 1. The editorial board said, "Nevertheless, it remains a fair question to ask whether the state’s only casino has influenced Bangor’s high crime rates...and whether a similar trend would occur in Oxford County if another casino is built there. Why gamble? Vote “No” on Question 1."[26]

Polls

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.[27]
  • 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.[28][29][30]
  • 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.[31][32]
  • 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.[33]
Legend

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

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 analysis

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.[34]

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.[35]

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.[35]

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.[36]

Path to the ballot

See Maine signature requirements and 2010 ballot measure petition signature costs

In order to place the measure on the 2010 ballot a minimum of 55,087 valid signatures were required by February 1, 2010.[1] 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.[3]

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.[37] 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.[6]

Signature summary

  • 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.[38] 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.[38]

Following the March 2010 rejection of the Oxford Casino measure by the legislature and the placement on the ballot, three competing measures were proposed.[39][40]

  1. 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.
  2. A second measure would have allowed Hollywood Slots to add table games and give limited slots to two tribes.
  3. 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.[41][42] The Senate voted 26-8 on April 5 against the proposed competing measures, securing the Oxford Initiative on the 2010 ballot.[6]

See also

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Related measures

DefeateddMaine Casino in Oxford County (2008)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Maine Calais Casino Measure (2010)

Articles

External links

Additional reading

Editorials

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Boston Globe, "Backers of Maine casino hope to force a Nov. vote," December 23, 2009
  2. Seacoastonline.com,"New bid for casino: Referendum heads to Maine voters," October 24, 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 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
  4. Maine Public Broadcasting Network,"Panel Rejects Effort to Combine Gambling Proposals," March 18, 2010
  5. MaineBiz,"Oxford casino OK'ed for ballot," April 6, 2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 The Portland Press Herald,"New casino in Maine? Voters get to decide," accessed April 6, 2010
  7. As Main Goes,"CasinosNo! Considers Recount, Legal Challenge to Q1," accessed November 5, 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 Associated Press,"Casino foes seek ballot question recount in Maine," November 9, 2010
  9. Maine Public Broadcasting Network,"Recount Considered as Oxford County Casino Wins by a Hair," November 3, 2010
  10. Morning Sentinel,"Casino plan passes; opponents may seek recount," November 4, 2010
  11. Bangor Daily News,"Gambling board: Oxford County casino requires new hires," November 17, 2010
  12. Sun Journal,"Public hearing set for Oxford casino," December 1, 2010
  13. Maine Public Broadcasting Network,"Dunlap Unveils Final Oxford Casino Ballot Question," June 3, 2010
  14. Associated Press,"Maine secretary of state decides upon final wording of casino initiative question," June 3, 2010
  15. Maine Public Broadcasting Network,"Dunlap Releases Draft of Casino Ballot Question," April 28, 2010
  16. Associated Press,"Wording On Maine Casino Question Proposed," April 28, 2010
  17. November 4, 2008 ballot question results
  18. 18.0 18.1 Maine Public Broadcasting Network,"Oxford County Casino Proposal Qualifies for November Ballot," February 17, 2010
  19. The Mainebiz,"Ex-racetrack owners back Oxford casino," May 26, 2010
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Sun Journal,"Group opposing casino in Oxford launches campaign Web site," September 14, 2010
  21. The Portland Press Herald,"Group forms to oppose Oxford County casino," July 26, 2010
  22. Sun Journal,"Coalition forms to oppose Oxford casino," July 26, 2010
  23. Maine Public Broadcasting Network,"Baldacci Vows to Veto Gambling Expansion Unless Voters Approve," February 8, 2010
  24. Morning Sentinel,"3 of 4 Democrat candidates oppose casino question," May 4, 2010
  25. Associated Press,"Bangor Chamber Opposes Maine Casino," September 22, 2010
  26. The Times Record,"‘No’ on Question 1," October 28, 2010
  27. Pan Atlantic SMS Group," The 45th Pan Atlantic SMS Group Omnibus Poll," accessed November 1, 2010
  28. The Portland Press Herald,"Job blues cast casino in new light," October 3, 2010
  29. Lewiston Sun Journal,"Poll showing support for Oxford casino," October 4, 2010
  30. Critical Insights,"Maine Voter Preference Study," September 27, 2010
  31. Bangor Daily News,"Maine casino question a tossup," October 26, 2010
  32. Pan Atlantic SMS Group," The 45th Pan Atlantic SMS Group Omnibus Poll," accessed November 1, 2010
  33. Kennebec Journal,"Poll: Voters continue to support casino," October 29, 2010
  34. Associated Press,"Study Hints Impact Of Proposed Maine Casino," September 18, 2010
  35. 35.0 35.1 Bangor Daily News,"Oxford casino might hurt Hollywood Slots," September 17, 2010
  36. Maine Public Broadcasting Network,"Maine Ethics Commission: Casino Advocate Violated Lobbying and Campaign Laws," May 4, 2010
  37. Bangor Daily News,"Gaming pact lacks committee support," March 19, 2010
  38. 38.0 38.1 Maine Public Broadcasting Network,"Tribes Propose Another Casino in Calais," March 1, 2010
  39. The Portland Press Herald,"Gambling proposals considered," April 2, 2010
  40. Kennebec Journal,"Gaming Proposals Piling Up," April 2, 2010
  41. Kennebec Journal,"Oxford County casino proposal to stand alone in November vote," April 3, 2010
  42. The MaineBiz,"House opposes single-casino question," House opposes single-casino question," April 1, 2010