Casino vote still neck and neck

OXFORD — At 1:45 a.m. Wednesday morning, the casino referendum was too close to call.

Yes on 1
Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Sumner Sessions, center, of Norway, celebrates his $50 cash win with Jim Boldebook, right, after spinning the wheel at the Yes on One party at Maurice Restaurant Francais in South Paris on Tuesday. "I didn't really feel like it was all that bad of an influence, because all I did was spin the wheel," said Sessions, referring to anti-casino ads.

NO ON 1
Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

OhNO on One supporters, from left, Scott Berk of Otisfield, Katey Branch of South Paris and Lee Dassler, also of Otisfield, share a laugh at the campaign's post-election party above Cafe Nomad in Norway on Tuesday.

Approval of Question 1 took an early lead as results trickled in. With 81 percent of precincts reporting, yes voters held a 1,400-vote lead.

In Oxford County, local voters came out in support of the referendum. According to unofficial results, Norway voters were in favor 1,500 to 888.

“I'm voting yes on 1 because I think it will be great for the economy," Norway resident Michelle Wood, 27, said outside the voting station Tuesday.

Paris voted for the referendum by a tally of 1,436 to 839, according to unofficial results.

Polls of likely voters over the past month have shown the casino leading with as many as 13 points. Casino supporters were cautiously optimistic going into Election Day.

Pro-casino group Maine Taxpayers Taking Charge represented Black Bear Entertainment, the group of Maine investors who would fund the casino if approved.

Rob Lally, a Black Bear Entertainment investor and a real estate developer, said the pro-casino group was optimistic at their campaign headquarters in Paris. “We're watching the returns come in and we're confident we'll come out on top," he said. "Hopefully, tomorrow we win and we can start putting people to work.”

“If we don't win, it'll be the status quo," he said. "No new jobs; no new tax revenue.”

The anti-casino coalition was a diverse one. In Norway, the Oxford Hills No on 1 campaign included pastors and business owners from around the county. Moose Pond Arts and Ecology co-founders Scott and Zizi Vlaun led the group.

“Every time it refreshes we're picking up points. We're in a dead heat,” Scott Vlaun said. “We're not going to bed.”

“We think because Penobscot County has only reported half of their votes and we're running so strong there that once they get all their votes in, we could surge ahead,” he said.

CasinosNo! has been around since 2002 to oppose casino referendums across Maine. With 3,000 members, the group has fought several casino proposals in recent years, including a 2008 referendum for an Oxford County casino.

Dennis Bailey, executive director of CasinosNo!, said he was confident the referendum would fail as Republican Paul LePage gained on independent Eliot Cutler in the race for governor each time more precincts reported in.

“We know from polling: As LePage does better, we do better," Bailey said. "A lot of Republicans are with us on this.”

Citizens Against the Oxford Casino included gambling interests that would be hurt by an Oxford Hills Casino, such as Hollywood Slots in Bangor and the Maine Harness Horsemen's Association. The Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs was also a sponsor.

Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School journalism student Abby Shanor contributed to this report.

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Comments

 's picture

Boycott L/A

To my fellow Oxford County and Franklin County Residents,
We in Oxford and Franklin Counties appreciate the business our neighbors bring our way and we reciprocate at every opportunity, unlike say the folks in Lewiston and Auburn where the vote was NO on the Oxford Casino after all our years of patronage of L/A businesses, services and professionals. A movement has begun to boycott all L/A businesses, services and professionals by Oxford and Franklin County residents because L/A has shown that they are nothing but ungrateful and greedy, with no goodwill towards their patrons despite the fact that Androscoggin County will receive millions of dollars each year from the casino.
It is my sincerest hope that you will join with those of us who are fed up with supporting an ungrateful multitude of L/A businesses, services, and professionals along with their employees and government entities and take your business elsewhere. We would recommend shopping locally first of course, when go elsewhere we recommend New Hampshire where there is no sales tax, great outlets, restaurants, theaters, and shopping opportunities. We recommend taking those medical needs you have been taking to L/A to Portland where the hospitals and physicians are not only better but more appreciative of our patronage.
Next year when the L/A Casino initiative appears on the ballot let’s remember how we were treated and all the objections as to infrastructure etc. that were raised that apply even more so to the proposed L/A site. Certainly the lack of infrastructure applies to L/A far more than Oxford and L/A does not have the neighborliness to address fire or law enforcement, roads are certainly not going to be addressed. We should remember to vote NO on the L/A request and spare them the anguish or congested roads and the other problems. In the meantime boycott L/A.

 's picture

The foundation isn't there in Lewiston either...

Really all that Lewiston has to offer for a Casino is an old building, that is in serious need of repair. The infrastructure that you say Lewiston has really stops at the Fire/Police services, as the roads around that section of the mill and surrounding streets are horrible. During any rush hour times, that area of the bridge is backed up severely in all directions (on the flip side so is any part of Oxford when OPS lets out), so really we are looking at rehabbing an area that should be torn down and increasing traffic in an area that can't support it. While Lewiston could use the jobs and revenue that a Casino could bring, Oxford could use it more, as there are other opportunities that can come to Lewiston, but what ever goes out to Oxford?

 's picture

the numbers, huh?

Concerned KD I'm wondering if you've ever put on your parka, gathered up your sled dogs and traveled out here to the wilds of oxford/norway/south paris?
Since the proposed site is on 26 I think we'll do fine with the traffic. We already manage all the ski traffic in the winter and quite a bit of lake traffic in the summer quite well. In fact much of the sections of the road (which is the best way from the turnpike to the tourist areas) that did need work have already been redone and repaired this year.
We do in fact have fire depts. and police coverage. Norway, South Paris and Oxford each have their own police and fire. South Paris even has the county jail and courthouse. There's this thing called google, you should do some quick fact checking before posting in the future.
We got phones a few years back! Also since I'm typing this (from Norway) you can see that we recently installed the innerweb tubes so that us folks out here can even talk on the internets now!
It's not just moose and water in oxford county anymore, we're moving up!
I do hear Lewiston is just filthy and crime ridden. I wouldn't know for certain though because it takes too long to get there on my horse drawn wagon.

 's picture

?Whats the Numbers??

I want to ask the supporters and residents of the oxford casino a question.....
What will be the up front cost to the tax payers to build infrastructure to support a casino..Things like a competent, experienced police department that is adequately equipped to deal with the increase in traffic and crime in the area?? They currently have only the sheriffs dept to serve them.. Also they need a fully equipped fire dept capable of serving the area. With a casino of this size they will need multiple trucks, full time employees, city water supply to developement sites(if not present). Then there is the question of roads and access to the casino.. The roads are not adequate for heavy traffic and if they stay the way they are now, how long will it take the locals to get home from work on the holiday weekends. There is limited roadways in that region and that leaves a lack of alternative routes...
These are just a few of the things that will need funding before the casino is open for business. The casino will have generated no revenue by then and the cost of infrastructure building will fall on the tax payers(not the casino) and this will mean a longer wait for thier gainfull taxes generated by the casino since the amount provided by the taxpayers up front for infrastructure will be huge sums (multimillions) of money..
On the contrary Lewiston has the infrastructure already in place. The investment needed wouldnt be in development of resources, It would just be beefing up resources. The roads are already in place to handle the traffic increase, The fire dept is already large enough to handle large structure fires with minimal help from neighboring towns..The police dept is already staffed, trained and experienced to handle any problems that may arise from a casino, they would only need to increase the number of officers on duty to handle any increase in the number of calls..
What does this mean to the taxpayer? This means that a casino in oxford means a longer timframe for Maine to see the projected tax revenue. Also an increased burden of spending tax dollars in Oxford county to support the development of services that do not exist there today but will be neccessary for public safety.
A casino in Lewiston would provide a faster track towards posative tax revenue generated for the benefit of the whole state, rather than having to spend the time digging out of the debt that would be created building Oxford into a town that can support a casino successfully. What services in oxford would lose funding to free up financial resources to develope? Why was this not brought to light before the election?

 's picture

All of Oxford County pays top

All of Oxford County pays top dollar for the Sheriff's Department. Re-elected Sheriff Wayne Gallant and his Department will finally have to show they are worth all they have been being paid all these years and their self-directed expansion to become THE Law Enforcement for the county as they have campaigned to elliminate municipal departments and expand the Sheriff's Department to become the single law enforcement agency in Oxford County to serve as Countywide Law Enforcement.

Fire Department, NO PROBLEM, you must have missed how well the many Municipal Departments of Oxford County work together as was demonstrated in the big New England Public Warehouse Fire in South Paris. In Oxford County, unlike Androscoggin, we work with not against our neighbors. We in Oxford County and Franklin County also realize that when our neighbors are doing better we tend to see things get better for us as well.

We in Oxford and Franklin Counties appreciate the business our neighbors bring our way and we recipricate at every opportunity, unlike say the folks in Lewiston and Auburn where the vote was NO on the Oxford Casino after all our years of patronage of L/A busnesses, services and professionals. A movement has begun to boycott all L/A businesses, services and professionals by Oxford and Franklin County residents because L/A has shown that they are nothing but ungrateful and greedy, with no goodwill towards their patrons.

Be honest KD, your big concern is that those in Androscoggin County who voted NO on the casino have to wait to start collecting on this initiative which unfortunately includes millions of dollars to be pumped directly to you. We regret that you were included as beneficiaries. Maybe we can hold a petition drive and have a vote next November to elliminate your benefit since you object to the casino in the first place. It certainly would be unfortunate to force any benefit upon you.

As for the roads situation, obviously and not surprisingly KD, since you like your fellow Androscoggin County residents do not reciprocate our business, service, or professional patronage are unaware of the major road improvements that have been in progress over the past few years. Fear not for us, we have been planning for hoped for economic development, unlike L/A. We are also very willing to accept any inconvenience that having gainful employment opportunities may bring. We would much prefer to be working and inconvenienced by increased traffic than collecting a welfare check, sitting home on our butts and whining.

To my fellow Oxford County and Franklin County Residents, It is my sincerest hope that you will join with those of us who are fed up with supporting an ungrateful multitude of L/A businesses, services, and professionals along with their employees and government entities and take your business elsewhere. We would recommend shopping locally first of course, when go else where we recommend New Hampshire where there is no sales tax, great outlets, resteraunts, theaters, and shopping opportunities. We recommend taking those medical needs you have been taking to L/A to Portland where the hospitals and physicians are not only better but more appreciative of our patronage.

Next year when the L/A Casino initiative appears on the ballot lets remember how we were treated and all the objections that KD raised. Certainly the lack of infrastructure applies to L/A far more than Oxford and L/A does not have the neighborliness to address fire or law enforcement, roads are certainly not going to be addressed. We should remember to vote NO on the L/A request and spare them the anquish or congested roads and the other problems. In the mean time boycott L/A.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Why not go peddle your junk

Why not go peddle your junk on e-Bay like everyone else. AARRGHH!!! WALK THE PLANK

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