OXFORD — A bill submitted by Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, would take 2 percent of casino revenues for a relief fund for local nonprofits that can prove they lost money due to the casino.
The current draft says the money would come in addition to the 46 percent of slot machine income and 16 percent of table game income already slated to be paid to the state for various beneficiaries like the Department of Education, Oxford County and the town of Oxford.
But Patrick said it was never his intention to remove more from casino revenues, but to change the distribution already in place. “I'll kill my own bill if it meant adding an extra 2 percent because that's actually detrimental to the citizens' initiative.”
He said he didn't specify from where the 2 percent would come when the bill was drafted. “The drafter of the legislation probably thought I wanted to add 2 more percent,” Patrick said.
Patrick, a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs, said his intention isn't to slow the passage of the casino bill. He said American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts are afraid the casino will take bingo revenues on which they rely for funding.
Nonprofits within 35 miles of the casino would be eligible to request money from the fund. He estimated there were thousands of nonprofit employees in the area around the casino.
He said nonprofits around Bangor have seen their revenues dip in recent years. If nonprofits around the casino could demonstrate a dip in revenues since the casino was built, they would be eligible for funds.
According to Black Bear Entertainment spokesman Peter Martin, the bill, called “An act to assist nonprofit corporations harmed by a casino,” has been tabled.
“I'm not sure where it's going to go,” Martin said Thursday. “It could just sort of be in limbo.”
Black Bear Community Development Director Scott Smith said he didn't believe the casino would affect local bingo games.
“People have their favorite games,” Smith said Thursday. “I wouldn't compare bingo to blackjack any day of the week.”
Several towns surrounding Oxford are also seeking a cut of casino revenue. On March 18, Paris, Norway, Mechanic Falls and Poland will hold a forum with local legislators to request the formation of a regional impact fund, using 1 percent of casino revenues, to help local towns pay for expenses related to the casino.