Maine Slot Machine Facility Initiative, Question 3 (2011)
|Slot Machine Facility|
|State code:||MRSA §1001, §1003, §1011...|
|Referred by:||Green Jobs for ME PAC|
The measure dealt with establishing a slot machine facility in the state, and appeared before voters due to the initiative's proponents collecting enough signatures in order to gain ballot access.
Supporters claimed before the January 20, 2011 petition drive deadline that they had collected enough signatures, however, they stated they would rather that the Maine Legislature enact a law during 2011 legislative session that would establish a casino when lawmakers review the measure. This did not happen.
On January 25, 2012, the Maine Ethics Commission launched an investigation regarding campaign financing for the measure. The commission began the investigation to find out who spent more than $400,000 towards the effort to pass the measure, and who also spent almost that much on advertising.
Dennis Bailey, of the group that was against the measure, CasinosNO!, complained about an agreement he came across between the Lewiston financial partners of the casino and a group called M-Five. The agreement required M-Five to "develop, plan, manage and pay for any campaign eforts" of the ballot measure. However, according to Bailey: "M-Five doesn't show up on their campaign finance. It's a group called GT Source, a Georgia casino company, whose president is also an officer with M-Five."
The investigation stemmed from this complaint by Bailey.
|Maine Question 3|
Results via official results from the Maine Secretary of State's office.
Text of measure
The language that voters saw on the ballot read:
- "Do you want to allow a casino with table games and slot machines in Lewiston?"
The title of the measure read:
- An Act Regarding Establishing a Slot Machine Facility.
The summary of the measure read as follows:
- This initiated bill authorizes the establishment of a slot machine facility in a municipality with a population of at least 30,000 in which slot machines were not in operation as of July 1, 2010 if the person who applies for a license to operate slot machines holds an option to purchase real property located in and owned by that municipality that was in effect on July 1, 2010 and approved by the voters of the municipality no later than July 1, 2010.
- The initiated bill removes the existing limit on the total number of slot machines that may be registered in this State, 1,500 machines, and replaces it with a limit of 1,500 slot machines at each licensed slot machine facility.
- The initiated bill provides for regulation of the slot machine facility authorized in the initiated bill by the Gambling Control Board.
- The slot machine operator would be required to collect and distribute 1% of gross slot machine income to the Treasurer of State for deposit in the General Fund for the administrative expenses of the Gambling Control Board. The initiated bill also requires the slot machine operator to collect and distribute 40% of net slot machine income to the board for distribution to various entities, in specified percentages for a variety of purposes that are also specified in the bill.
The fiscal note of the referendum cost read as follows:
- The Secretary of State's budget includes sufficient funds to accommodate one ballot of average length for the general election in November. If the number or size of the referendum questions requires production and delivery of a second ballot, an additional appropriation of $107,250 may be required.
The full "Preliminary Fiscal Impact Statement for Original Bill" can be read here.
- The Lewiston City Council supported the measure. At a city council meeting held on October 4, 2011, the council voted 5-1 to endorse it.
- The Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council threw support behind the measure.
- Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert stated his support saying: "Where else in Maine have we seen job creation such as this?"
- Developers in Maine argued that the proposed measure and new facility could have created an estimated 800 construction jobs and 500 full-time jobs.
- "We need jobs, we need investment dollars, and we need to treat every business opportunity the same," said Harold Clossey from the Sunrise County Economic Council.
- The Passamaquoddy Tribe argued that the unemployment rates in Washington county and on the reservation continued to increase at the time and that the proposed measure would have helped attract more jobs.
|Green Jobs for ME||$41,654.95|
The following is information obtained from the opposing side of the measure:
|Gambling on the ballot in 2011|
- The main group in opposition to Question 3 was "No More Casinos Maine" and CasinosNo!.
- The campaign group argued that people needed to step back and see if (previously) current casinos and gambling in the state were effective in attracting more revenue and jobs. The expansion, said Matthew Boucher, a member of the campaign group, was happening too fast.
- State Rep. Tyler Clark said, "If we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with casinos, it could be harmful. It's important for people not to think that this is the magic bullet that will save us from a bad economy." Clark added that new casinos may steal competition away from existing gambling locations.
- According to Dennis Bailey, executive director of the Casinos No!: "There isn't a town in America where a casino has improved a downtown or revived a downtown or brought business downtown. It doesn't work that way. In fact, it does the opposite. It drives business away."
- Bailey stated at the time that campaigns supporting the measure promised more tax revenues than the state could get: “[Tax revenues] are not allocated fairly, and the campaigns have confused the public,” Bailey said. “The problem is these campaign promises [that are made] when they’re trying to get a casino built. It’s a show game. They say the state will receive around 40 percent of the revenues, but in reality it’s something like 14 percent.”
The following were contributions that were made toward the campaign against the measure:
|Total campaign cash|
|Penobscot County for Table Games & Jobs||$100,000.00|
|No More Casinos Maine||$4,740.00|
Media editorial positions
- The Bangor Daily News stated: "Lewiston officials would do better to build ties to the economic hub that is Greater Portland and persuade developers to save some, if not all of the Bates Mill through incentives. A Lewiston casino is one too many. Question 3 should be defeated."
- The Portland Press Herald wrote in an editorial: "The allure of quick gambling money should not divert Lewiston from the real progress it has made, which has not only bettered that community, but made it a model for others. We urge a "no" vote on Question 3."
- The Sun Journal stated: "Massive portions of the revenue from this casino project would go to benefit many groups and agencies, and its creation would likely spawn a new round of development and growth for L-A. Vote “yes” on Question 3."
Path to the ballot
- See also: Maine signature requirements
Any Maine registered voter may propose a citizen initiative or a people's veto referendum, according to state law. The voter must first submit a one-page notarized form entitled "Application for Citizen Initiative" or "Application for People's Veto Referendum" to the Secretary of State's office. The completed application must contain the names, addresses and signatures of 5 Maine registered voters, in addition to the applicant, who are designated to receive any notices related to the processing of the application. The Secretary of State must approve the ballot summary before the petition can be circulated for signatures.,
|Voting on Gambling|
|Not on ballot|
- See also: Signature requirements in Maine
In order to place the measure on the 2011 ballot, a minimum of 58,054 valid signatures were required by January 20, 2011. The number of signatures required by law represents 10% of the total votes cast for governor (excluding blanks) in the most recent election as established in Article 4, Part Third, Section 18, sub-section 2 of the Maine Constitution.
Signature filing and verification
- See also: Signature filing deadlines in Maine
The deadline for the Maine Secretary of State to verify signatures for this measure, according to the office, was February 4, 2011. The measure was only one of two Maine initiative efforts to file signatures by the January 20 deadline. Before signature submission, measure supporter Stavros Mendros stated about the signatures collected during the petition drive, "We figure we'll have 7,000 to 8,000 extra. I want to get them turned in now because I'd rather have them stored someplace safe. I want them in a nice secure location where they can start processing them." 
The initiative was scheduled to be reviewed by the state legislature as the Maine Secretary of State found that supporters had collected enough signatures. Signatures were certified by the February 4, 2011 deadline. According to Stavros Mendros, organizer of the petition drive: "We're obviously delighted. We're ecstatic. We're ready to move forward with the next step."
On June 6, 2011, the Maine House of Representatives approved the initiative, sending it to the Maine State Senate for a similar vote. Then on June 9, 2011, the Maine State Senate voted against the measure. It remained on the ballot.
The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure.
|Deadline||Jan. 20, 2011||The deadline to submit signatures in the state for the 2011 ballot.|
|Deadline||Feb. 4, 2011||Secretary of state validated signatures, placing measure on the ballot.|
|Election||Nov. 8, 2011||General election, where the measure will be presented to voters.|
- WCSH 6 News,"Gaming Issues on November Ballot," September 19, 2011
- Associated Press,"Gambling bills reviewed by Maine lawmakers," May 4, 2011
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Maine Secretary of State, "Citizen Initiative Petitions Currently Approved for Circulation", Retrieved January 3, 2011
- ↑ Sun Journal, "With signatures in hand, casino backers urge legislators to adopt plan", December 31, 2010
- ↑ MPBN, "Maine Ethics Commission Authorizes Casino Funding Probe", January 25, 2012
- ↑ Results do not add up to 100% due to blank ballots.
- ↑ Maine Elections Division, "Proposed Initiative Questions", Retrieved July 15, 2011
- ↑ Maine Legislature, "An Act Regarding Establishing a Slot Machine Facility", Retrieved April 11, 2011
- ↑ http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/687a6057699145fd8f1515d658a8ceda/ME--Lewiston-Casino/ The Republic, "Lewiston, Maine, council throws support behind casino referendum", October 5, 2011]
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Business Week, "Maine: Casino referendum supporters make case", October 10, 2011
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 WLBZ2,"Campaign to expand gambling kicks off," September 19, 2011
- ↑ Maine Campus, "Slots support scholarships", October 24, 2011
- ↑ Bangor Daily News, "No on Question 3", October 23, 2011
- ↑ The Portland Press Herald, "Our View: Question 3, however, calls for a 'no' vote", October 23, 2011
- ↑ Sun Journal, "'Yes' is the ticket this Election Day", November 6, 2011
- ↑ Form used to apply for an initiative
- ↑ Form used to apply for a veto referendum
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Sun Journal, "Lewiston casino effort notches 75,000 signatures", December 30, 2010
- ↑ The Maine Secretary of State's office was contacted by Ballotpedia to verify the signature verification deadline.
- ↑ Sun Journal, "Lewiston slot machine measure going to Legislature", February 5, 2011
- ↑ WCSH6.com, "Rally at the State House in support of racinos", June 8, 2011
- ↑ Press-Herald, "Senate splits on citizen-initiated gaming proposals", June 10, 2011