LEWISTON — For the second time in as many years, Maine voters are being asked to approve a casino with slot machines and table games such as blackjack and roulette in the town of Oxford.
Also on the horizon is a possible vote in 2011 on a plan to bring a casino to downtown Lewiston. Some think that if the Oxford casino passes, the proposal for Lewiston may not.
The group behind the Lewiston plan has begun advertising in local print publications, urging people to save their votes for 2011.
But Oxford supporters say their plan doesn't mean a casino and convention center couldn't also be built in Lewiston.
At issue is a provision in the Oxford legislation that would prohibit another casino from opening within a 100-mile radius. But Oxford supporters say another referendum question could remove that provision. The proposed legislation for the Lewiston casino does just that.
The law that allows Maine's only slot parlor in Bangor also includes a 100-mile provision, but Oxford is beyond the 100-mile zone.
"If they want a casino in Lewiston that's going to be a draw for the state and across the state, then they need to vote no (on the Oxford casino)," says Stavros Mendros, a former state lawmaker and former Lewiston city councilor. He is a member of the group backing a plan to build a casino at the Bates Mill No. 5 property in the downtown.
Mendros says his group's plan could still go forward and he agrees that the legislation for it strikes the 100-mile restriction in the Oxford plan.
But if Oxford passes, the Lewiston casino would likely be a scaled-down development and not the kind of casino-convention center that people have hoped for, Mendros says.
"All the effort this community has worked for over the last three decades to become a destination for Maine will be destroyed if Oxford passes," he says.