Citizens Against the Maine Oxford Casino warn about monopoly being created

By Ramona du Houx - October 18th, 2010 · 

A broad-based coalition that formed earlier this year to oppose the Oxford casino proposal began running television ads today, to educate voters as to why the Oxford proposal is a bad deal for Maine.

The ads put a spotlight on a loophole in the proposal that could potentially reduce the Oxford casino’s tax rate, a tax rate that would already be lower than Maine’s other commercial gaming facility, Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway in Bangor. The advertisements also say that a “yes” vote on Question 1 would create a table game monopoly for the Oxford casino, which would cost Maine jobs, opportunities, and revenue.

“From the start, this coalition’s main purpose has been to educate voters about what they will be voting on this November,” said spokesman for the Citizens Against the Oxford Casino Dan Cashman. “The immediate promises from this proposal sound good on the surface, but there are a lot of details in the proposal that send up a red flag. We’ve had a grassroots effort to educate voters about the red flags, and with these advertisements we will be trying to reach a greater population of Maine citizens. The more Mainers learn about Question 1, the more they realize it’s still a bad deal for Maine.”

The advertisement comes on the heels of a recent op-ed in the Portland Press Herald by University of Maine economics professor Todd Gabe, where he backs off some of the bold predictions Question 1 backers are using in their advertisements. Gabe admits that it is impossible to determine how much of the potential revenue generated by the proposed Oxford casino would have otherwise been spent in Maine.

“Even backers of Question 1 have become confused about what this proposal really means for Maine,” said Cashman. “The Citizens Against the Oxford Casino is not necessarily against the expansion of gaming, but if we’re going to expand gaming in Maine, this coalition feels that it should be done right…not with loopholes and fuzzy figures.”

Professor Gabe’s op-ed appeared in the Portland Press Herald in the same week that the Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel, Maine Sunday Telegram and Portland Press Herald all endorsed “No on 1,” agreeing that Question 1 is still a “bad deal for Maine.”

In addition to the reasons cited in the ads, the Citizens Against the Oxford Casino is opposed to the Oxford proposal because of language that would not allow any other gaming facilities to open within a 100 mile radius of Oxford. That distance would shut the door on new jobs or growth in the gaming industry throughout all of southern Maine, most of western Maine, portions of mid-coast Maine, central Maine, and eastern Maine.

“As Election Day is coming closer, more and more Mainers are reading up on the issues that are important to them,” said Cashman. “Based on what we’re hearing on the streets and what we’re starting to see in the polls, more and more Mainers agree that Question 1 is simply a bad deal for Maine.”

Citizens Against the Oxford Casino includes the Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs; the Maine Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association; the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association; Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway; the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township; the Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce.