‘No Slots’ group falls short in petition campaign


AUGUSTA (AP) – Activists seeking to initiate legislation to outlaw slot machines in Maine have fallen short in their effort to gather enough signatures to force a referendum on the proposal this November.

But a spokesman for the group, No Slots for ME!, said it expects to try again in hopes of putting the measure on the ballot in November 2008.

“We view this as an ongoing fight” that will not come to a head this year as originally planned, Doug Muir said.

Muir gave no indication of how many voter signatures the group had collected, saying it was “hard to put a number on it.” The minimum needed is 55,087, or 10 percent of last year’s gubernatorial vote, which must be submitted by Thursday’s deadline.

The campaign is seeking to halt the operation of slot machines at Hollywood Slots in Bangor and prohibit any future slots facilities from starting up.

Last week, the Secretary of State’s Office ruled that the Passamaquoddy Tribe had gathered enough signatures to place its proposal for a tribal racino in Washington County on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Supporters of a proposed casino in Oxford County said recently that they hope to get their measure to referendum in the 2008 election.

Groups sponsoring initiatives unrelated to gambling have also been waging petition campaigns.

Andrew Bossie of Opportunity Maine, which seeks to provide tax breaks on students loans to college graduates who live and work in the state, said the group is expected to submit its petitions Thursday.

Don Christen, who organized a campaign to expand the medicinal use of marijuana, said he didn’t know if the drive has enough signatures for a 2007 referendum.

Stavros Mendros said his campaign for an online real-estate listing service has always been looking toward a 2008 referendum and never intended to put its question on the ballot this year.

Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com

AP-ES-01-23-07 0754EST