Maine Allow a Casino in Oxford County, Question 2 (2008)

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The Maine Allow a Casino in Oxford County Initiative, also known as Question 2, was on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Maine as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was defeated. The measure would have authorized Evergreen Mountain Enterprises, LLC to operate a gaming facility at a single site in Oxford County.[1][2]

Election results

Maine Question 2 (2008)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No389,25153.84%
Yes 333,685 46.16%

Election results via: Maine Secretary of State, Elections Division, Referendum Election Tabulations, November 4, 2008

Text of measure

See also: Full text of the initiated measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

ME2008Nov Question 2 SB.PNG

[3]

Summary

The following summary was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

This initiated bill authorizes Evergreen Mountain Enterprises, LLC to operate a gaming facility at a single site in Oxford County. The legislative body and voters of any municipality in which the site is located must approve the site for the operation of the gaming facility. The gaming facility is authorized to contain slot machines, bazaar games conducted solely for merchandise prizes, lottery games, video facsimiles, card games, table games and other games of chance, including without limitation blackjack, poker, dice, roulette, baccarat, money-wheels and bingo. The initiated bill removes the limit on the total number of slot machines that are allowed to be registered in this State. The minimum age to play a slot machine or gaming device is lowered from 21 years of age to 19 years of age. The initiated bill provides that, other than the approved commercial race tracks in the State that operate slot machines, the gaming facility operated by Evergreen Mountain Enterprises, LLC must be the only gaming facility in the State for at least 10 years. The initiated bill provides for regulation of the gaming facility by the Department of Public Safety, Gambling Control Board.

The initiated bill requires the gaming operator to collect and distribute 1% of adjusted gross gaming device income to the Treasurer of State for deposit in the General Fund for the administrative expenses of the Gambling Control Board. The gaming operator must pay to the State 39% of the total gross gaming device income. This money paid to the State must be used for the following purposes:

1. Five percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed to repay student loans of residents of this State; 2. Four percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed to the research and development of an east-west highway in the State;

3. Three percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed to develop and construct a facility to produce biofuels, including fuel for heating homes;

4. Three percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed to make health care more affordable for employees of businesses and the self-employed in this State. This endeavor must include expanding membership in the Dirigo Health Program and allowing such health care to be offered as a self-insured product;

5. Two percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed for revenue sharing with municipalities, with the intent of providing local property tax relief;

6. Two percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed to a Maine prepaid college plan to allow residents of this State to prepay the cost of college tuition, fees and dormitory housing before a child goes to college;

7. Two percent of the total gross gaming device income must be used to assist the elderly with the cost of prescription drugs;

8. Two percent of the total gross gaming device income must be used for the improvement of secondary rural roads in the State;

9. Two percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed for the expansion of facilities and course selection in the Maine Community College System;

10. One percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed for the program cost portion of general purpose aid for local schools;

11. One percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed to Maine’s Renewable Resource Fund for the development of new renewable sources of energy;

12. One percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed to the Finance Authority of Maine for its NextGen First Step Grant program to assist residents of this State in saving for college tuition;

13. One percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed to towns to be used for regionalization efforts of towns that express interest in reducing and eliminating duplicative municipal services;

14. One percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed to help fund raising the minimum wage to a level comparable with a "livable wage" for the resident workers in this State of $7.70 per hour in 2008 and $8.40 in 2009 and in accordance with the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, CPI-W index, thereafter. If the Legislature refuses to accept these funds for this purpose, these funds must go to funding affordable health care and Dirigo Health;

15. One percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed for grants to residents of this State who demonstrate energy efficiency and conservation proficiency, such as rebates for purchasers of hybrid and biodiesel-capable vehicles, for those who convert vehicles into biodiesel-capable vehicles and for users of biofuel for home and business heating, and grants for residents of this State to develop such clean and efficient fuel technologies;

16. One percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed for the improvement of the water quality of the rivers of this State and the technology to allow paper mills and waste treatment plants to eliminate the toxins they release into rivers;

17. One percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed to the Land for Maine’s Future Fund established in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 5, section 6203 to secure the traditional heritage of this State of public access to the land and water resources of this State and to secure the continued quality and availability of natural resources important to the interests and continued heritage of the people of the State;

18. One percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed to public access television stations in this State for the improvement of technology and programming;

19. One percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed for funding residents of this State who are 15 years of age to 30 years of age to support ideas and projects that will stimulate the creative economy in this State, enhance technology, improve civic engagement or otherwise effect positive community change;

20. One percent of the total gross gaming device income must be distributed for programs to protect gaming patrons against the risks of gambling, including gambling addiction counseling services and monitoring patrons who may be at risk and have a propensity for problem gambling;

21. Two percent of the total gross gaming device income must be forwarded directly to any municipality in which the gaming facility is located; and

22. One percent of the total gross gaming device income must be forwarded directly to Oxford County to pay for mitigation of costs resulting from gaming operations. [3]

Maine Secretary of State, [1]

Intent and content

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 a gambling casino in Oxford County that would be owned and operated by a private company known as Evergreen Mountain Enterprises, LLC (“Evergreen”), or a company formed by Evergreen for this purpose. Gaming activities authorized under the initiated bill include slot machines, card games, bazaar games conducted solely for merchandise prizes, table games and other games of chance including blackjack, poker, dice, roulette, baccarat, money-wheels and bingo, as well as lottery games and video facsimiles of any card game, table game or other game of chance.

The casino would be located at a site in Oxford County selected by Evergreen. Before the facility could be licensed, the voters of the municipality would first have to approve the operation of gaming devices at the site, in a referendum election to be held prior to December 31, 2008. The Oxford County facility would be the only site in the state where gaming devices are allowed, other than slot machines allowed at the one commercial race track under existing law. Operation of the gaming facility would be regulated by the state Gambling Control Board within the Department of Public Safety. No other gaming facility could be licensed in the state for 10 years from the commencement of gaming operations at this casino.

The initiated bill would remove the current limit on the total number of slot machines that may be allowed in the state, while maintaining the limit on the number of slot machines that may be licensed at any commercial track to 1,500 machines. It also would prohibit commercial tracks from expanding their gaming operations beyond slot machines.

The initiated bill would lower the minimum age for obtaining access to and participating in gaming activities, including slot machines at commercial tracks, from 21 to 19 years of age. It authorizes the licensee to operate the casino any day of the year, and without restriction on the hours of operation.

The initiated bill includes a provision exempting Evergreen from liability or responsibility for any act or omission of a gaming operator (defined as an entity owned by Evergreen and established for the purposes of developing, owning or operating the casino in Oxford County), except as specifically provided by a contract signed by Evergreen “or otherwise as provided by law without regard to” the Gambling Control Board statute.

The gaming operator would be required to collect and turn over to the Gambling Control Board and then the State Treasurer 39% of the “total gross gaming device income” (all amounts wagered minus amounts paid out) from casino operations. The State Treasurer would be required to distribute designated percentages of those proceeds to 22 specific programs and agencies listed in the initiated legislation. The initiative provides that the President of Evergreen must be appointed a voting member on the governing board, if one exists, of each entity or program that receives an allocation of funds under this legislation “regarding the allocation of specific funding that is paid by the gaming operator.”

An additional 1% of the “adjusted gross gaming device income” (the total value of wagers before any payback is distributed to a player) would be deposited in the General Fund for administrative costs of the state Gambling Control Board.

If approved, this citizen initiated legislation would take effect 30 days after proclamation of the vote.

A “YES” vote is in favor of the initiative and approves the legislation.

A “NO” vote is in opposition to the initiative and disapproves the legislation. [3]

Office of the Attorney General, [1]

Fiscal note

The following fiscal impact statement was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

Assuming successful passage of the Citizen's Initiative "An Act To Allow A Casino In Oxford County" by voters at a statewide referendum and by the local governmental body where the casino is proposed, one casino located in Oxford County and operated by an entity of Evergreen Mountain Enterprises, LLC would be licensed. Presented below is an estimate of the potential revenue and subsequent distribution of revenue that may be generated. This estimate assumes the facility would install 1,000 slot machines upon opening, along with 54 gaming tables, and indicates a potential annual distribution of gaming revenues of $10,145,385 to the General Fund and $31,832,308 to Other Special Revenue Funds. The first year license fees to the General Fund would be $419,900. Annual State costs associated with Inspectors, a State Police Detective, an Assistant Attorney General and related costs are estimated to be $944,158.

This analysis assumes no significant effect on revenue generated by the licensed racino facility in Bangor. If there is an appreciable change in racino revenue, there will be a change in the amounts of revenue distributed from that facility. Based on the experience to date with the Bangor racino facility, it is not expected that the proposed casino would have any effect on lottery revenues.

ME2008Nov Question 2 Fiscal Impact Statement Part1.PNG
ME2008Nov Question 2 Fiscal Impact Statement Part2.PNG
ME2008Nov Question 2 Fiscal Impact Statement Part3.PNG

[3]

—Office of Fiscal and Program Review, [1]

Support

Supporters

Slot machines
  • The Evergreen Mountain Enterprises, LLC
  • Vote Yes on 2 For Maine
  • MaineCasinoNow.com, launched by Evergreen Mountain Enterprise, LLC

Arguments

Notable arguments made in support of the measure included:

  • The casino's revenue would fund student loans, research and development of an east-west highway, a biofuel facility, health care and revenue sharing with municipalities

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments

Notable arguments made in opposition to the measure included:

  • It calls for the gambling age to be lowered from 21 to 19 and would allow 18-year-olds to work in the casino, both of which are too young.
  • No other casino would be allowed in Maine for 10 years, causing a monopoly on the industry.

Robert Welch of the Gambling Control Board and the Department of Public Safety also spoke against the measure. Since table games were not electronic, they could not be watched through a central monitoring facility, he said. This would force the department to establish nine new positions in order to regulate the casino.[5]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Maine & Signature requirements for ballot measures in Maine

The Maine Secretary of State certified 59,504 signatures. This was 4,417 more than the needed amount of valid signatures.[6] That put it in the state legislature's hands—to either enact the initiative exactly as proposed or to let voters decide the issue on the November 2008 ballot. The measure died in legislative committee on April 3, 2008, sending the initiative to the November ballot.[4][7]

See also

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