A public hearing date has been set for this week to allow the public to have their say on a proposal to construct a new casino in southern Maine. The well-funded proposal has been criticized by many parties, including Maine Governor Paul LePage and the No More Casinos Maine political action committee. The proposal is set to appear on this November’s ballot if authorities clear the signatures gathered.
The campaign to build a new casino in southern Maine was started, and is being financed, by a group called Horseracing Jobs Fairness, which is run by Lisa Scott. The controversial side of the proposal comes from the fact that Lisa Scott is sister to gambling impresario Shawn Scott, who sold his $51 million stake in Bangor Raceway ten years ago. Since then, the Scotts have sunk over $4 million into the Horseracing Jobs Fairness campaign to build the southern Maine casino. The proposal only allows for a York County casino or slot machine operator license for Shawn Scott.
Sixteen years ago, Scott won voter approval for Maine’s first gambling facility in Bangor. Around the time that Scott sold his stake in Bangor Raceway, he was also denied gambling licenses in other states after authorities raised questions about his background and alleged shady business dealings.
Last year, the lobbying group submitted thousands of signatures to authorities to get the question of a southern Maine casino on the 2016 ballots. However, election officials rejected over 50% of the signatures, citing irregularities. The group then used the 35,000 approved signatures and added them to thousands of others to get the question onto this year’s ballot.
Gambling officials and lawmakers have expressed their opposition to the proposal, simply because it is written in such a way that would only benefit Shawn Scott.
“Since the beginning of this referendum process, it’s been wrought with fraud,” noted Democratic Rep. Louis Luchini.