The Maine Legislature faced a choice 10 years ago.
Gambling was clearly inevitable in Maine, and the state could have developed a logical process for locating a handful of strategically placed casinos or racinos here.
We could have sold licenses to developers and then determined how much revenue would go to the state and how it would be used.
But our citizen Legislature failed to act.
Largely by happenstance, voters have adopted a different and far less tidy process: Developers approach communities with a plan. If the community supports the idea, the developers risk their own money to run a campaign to get statewide voter approval.
So far, the state's voters have considered a half-dozen proposals and approved two gambling outlets, one in Bangor and another in Oxford.
Bangor has a racino; in 2012 Oxford will have a casino.
The process is less than ideal, but it is a process.
Now voters in Lewiston, Biddeford and Washington County have said they would welcome casinos or racinos into their communities.
The Biddeford/Washington County racino is Question 2 on the ballot; the Lewiston casino is Question 3.
Voters should vote "yes" on both issues.
The reasons vary by community, but the common argument is the same: jobs and development.
The case for a casino in Lewiston is particularly compelling.
Bates Mill No. 5 is a large, historical structure located at the gateway to Maine's second-largest city.
It has been either empty or marginally utilized for nearly a quarter of a century. In that time, we have not had a single realistic plan emerge for that property.
Before a group of local citizens came forward with the casino idea, the city was on the verge of knocking it down.
Over the years, suggestions for the site have centered on creating a magnet to draw visitors back into the downtown. More than 10 years ago, discussion focused on a convention center.
But that would have required a huge public expenditure with the prospect of endless taxpayer subsidy.
A casino would accomplish the same goal but without public investment. Instead, the casino would return property taxes and gambling revenue to the city for years to come.
The positive impact Hollywood Slots has had on downtown Bangor can't be ignored and, in fact, can be duplicated here.
A casino would give a big boost to the restaurant district that has sprung up on and around lower Lisbon Street. It would practically guarantee a significant hotel being built on the Cowan and Libbey mill sites across the street.
In short, it would be a major shot in the arm for the city and its residents.
Perhaps the best reason for a "yes" vote on the Lewiston casino is to reject the hypocrisy and parochialism that has characterized this campaign.
Community leaders and newspapers north and south of here have argued that gambling would be great for Biddeford and Washington County but somehow bad for Lewiston.
According to the Portland Press Herald, a casino could even "block" development here.
Our community disagrees, and loudly.
Believe, instead, what Dan Thayer, chairman of the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council has said:
"The casino project will create new jobs that pay a livable wage, bring significant capital investments to an underutilized area, enhance the local property tax base and provide a downtown destination attraction without detracting from the community's economic vitality, diverse business mix and its historic character."
We urge you to vote "yes" on Question 3 on Nov. 8.
Ten years ago, the Maine Legislature faced a choice.
It was clear casino and racino racing was eventually coming to Maine. At that time, the state could have grabbed the reins and developed a logical process for locating a handful of strategically placed gambling outlets in the state.
In fact, we could have sold licenses to develop racinos and casinos then determined how much revenue would go to the state and how it would be used.
For whatever reason, our citizen legislature failed to act.
Today, the horse is out of the barn or, as they say in a casino, the die has been cast.
Instead, by happenstance, we have developed a different and far less tidy process: developers approach communities with a plan. If the community supports the idea, the developers risk their own money to run a campaign to get statewide voter approval.
So far, the state's voters have considered a half-dozen proposals and approved two, one in Bangor and one in Oxford.
Bangor has a racino; Oxford will in 2012 have a casino.
The process is less than ideal, but that is the process.
In Lewiston, Biddeford and Washington County, voters have said they would welcome gambling to their communities.
The Biddeford/Washington County racino is issue one two on the ballot; the Lewiston casino is issue three.
Voters should vote "yes" on both issues.
The reasons vary from community, but the common arguments in each case are jobs and development.