Both Sides Clash In Oxford Casino Debate 

On election day Maine voters will either clear the way for a casino in Oxford County, or kill the deal. It’s Question 1 on the ballot. It’s a Citizen’s Initiative that asks: “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?”A coalition representing groups like the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce and the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association is saying the proposed Oxford casino is a bad deal for Maine. One concern they have is that an operator has yet to be named. “Our question isn’t so much about a specific operator but why hasn’t one been named?” says Dan Cashman of the No on #1 campaign.Leading the charge for the proposed casino is a group of Maine business leaders who say they’ll find an operator if and when question one passes. “We’re going to interview all of the best operators in the country,” says Rob Lally, President & Partner of the Yes on #1 campaign. “And we’re going to select the best operator for our needs at that point. You know and if penn national is on the list we’ll talk to them as well.”At Wednesday’s press conference the President of the Bangor Chamber of Commerce expressed concerns about what a casino in Oxford county would mean for the contiued success of Hollywood Slots. “I think the unlevel playing field with respect to the taxation of gaming revenues is a big concern and it could be very harmful to Hollywood Slots and what we have going in the city of Bangor,” says John Porter, President of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce.An accusation Lally calls laughable. He says the Pennsyvania-based company that owns Hollywood Slots is afraid of the competition the Oxford casino would provide. Then there’s the claim that the new Oxford casino would produce 2700 new jobs here in Maine. “I do think there’s an element of false hope in this proposal in that sense,” says Porter. “It’s not as simple as you build it and they come.”Rob Lally says there is no false hope and that this project is a job creator. “And we’re talking about hiring engineers, architects, wetland scientists, site specialists to help us in our site selection process.”The two sides also disagree about whether or not the Oxford casino proposal would affect the ability of Hollywood Slots ability to have table games. Supporters of yes on one say the Oxford casino proposal has no affect on Hollywood Slots ability to have table games.The final decision on the Oxford casino will be made by voters in less than a week.