Lewiston casino backers say, 'It's our turn'

LEWISTON — Twin Cities officials and business owners on Tuesday touted jobs, economic development and other benefits of a proposed casino in the Bates Mill.

Jose Leiva/Sun Journal

Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert responds to questions at a news conference about a proposed casino in Lewiston on Tuesday.

"Our cities have worked hard to make our downtown vibrant again," said local restaurant owner Jimmy Simones. "This Lewiston entertainment complex is the perfect next piece of the puzzle. The debate about gambling in Maine is over. If Bangor and Oxford can have one, why not us?"

Voters statewide will go to the polls Nov. 8 to decide the fate of Lewiston's casino plan. If they approve, it will allow Great Falls Recreation and Redevelopment LLC to buy the sawtooth-roofed building and use it for a casino.

Tuesday's news conference was called to officially launch a political action committee to promote the casino and to urge Mainers to vote yes on ballot Question 3. Called the People of Lewiston-Auburn Committee, the PAC is scheduled to begin television advertising later this week.

The group took advantage of Tuesday's mild weather and held its news conference outside, in the parking lot of Pedro O'Hara's restaurant on Main Street, directly across from Bates Mill No. 5.

"I can only hope that one day, Mill No. 5 will be an exciting complex," said Troy Kavanaugh, co-owner of Pedro O'Hara's. "I don't feel in any way that this hurt my business. It will only create excitement down here in the waterfront and we look forward to the opportunity."

Backers, including Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert, City Councilor Mark Cayer and Auburn City Councilor Belinda Gerry, said the casino would bring 1,000 jobs to the Twin Cities, as well as millions in new revenues.

"This is exactly what Lewiston and the Androscoggin region need and the timing could not be better," Cayer said. "This area has long been under-utilized. Significant investment in the area has already been made and we are completing more. It has easy access to the Maine Turnpike. The city is also well-poised to deal with an an entertainment center such as the Lewiston casino."

They also touted the revenue it would bring to the rest of the state. The group estimated a casino would return between $21 million and $30 million to state, regional and local governments and agencies each year. That money goes to a wide array of groups, including local towns and would-be competitors. As much as $4.5 million could go to local governments — Lewiston, Auburn, Androscoggin County and surrounding towns.

staylor@sunjournal.com

Jose Leiva/Sun Journal

Jules Patry, left, the owner of DaVinci's Eatery in Lewiston and Paul and Kate Landry, the owners of Fish Bones American Grill in Lewiston, listen to speakers at a press conference at Pedro O'Hara's talk about a proposed casino in Lewiston on Tuesday.

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Comments

 's picture

100 mile limit between casinos

I am neither against or for a Lewiston casino. However, I would like to know how and when the minimum of 100 miles driving distance between casinos got lifted? Not too long ago, Oxford casino was being challenged for a violation of distance between Oxford and the Hollywood slots in Bangor. According to Google maps,Lewiston is about 86 miles from Bangor and approximately 15 miles from Oxford. Thus, unless I'm not understanding it correctly, building a casino in Lewiston would clearly violate the less than 100 miles rule between Bangor or Oxford.

Jeanne Boelsma's picture

Exemption

What makes Lewiston eligible for the exemption? It seems that the idea of 100 miles between facilities is that they don't pull from the same demographic area and hurt each other. If every town has slot machines, the big facilities will go bankrupt. Everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon for easy money and in the end nobody will win.

Jeanne Boelsma's picture

Exemption

How can they just exempt themselves? Isn't that like saying you don't need to obey the speed limit because you are exempt?

 's picture

I for one am voting no

I for one am voting no. I live in Lewiston,and I want the planned casino in Oxford to be a success. I feel that if there is another casino so close it will ruin the chances of either one being successful. So no no no!

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