Slots win council’s approval in Bangor


BANGOR (AP) – The Bangor City Council unanimously approved a series of agreements to pave the way for a $70 million permanent slots facility that will eventually replace the temporary Hollywood Slots that has been in operation since November.

The support for slots Monday night came as no surprise. City officials have been some of the biggest cheerleaders for the permanent racino.

“We got ‘er done,” Council Chairman John Cashwell said after the votes took place. “I’m not Larry the Cable Guy, but it works anyway.”

Penn National Gaming Inc. has been operating a temporary slots facility with 475 machines at the former Miller’s Restaurant. Its permanent facility will have 1,500 slot machines and will generate at least $2.1 million a year for the city of Bangor.

“This is just one more step in a long and winding path leading to a great future here in Bangor,” said Steve Snyder, Penn National’s senior vice president for corporate development and one of several company officials who attended Monday’s council meeting.

Penn National’s permanent racino will include a parking garage, restaurant and retail space. Penn’s off-track betting operation, now operated out of the grandstand at city-owned Bangor Raceway horse track, also will be housed in the new facility.

Construction on the new complex, which will be located on Main Street across from Bass Park, will begin in 2007 or 2008. Most of the land Penn National is arranging to buy is occupied by a Holiday Inn, which will be razed.

Bangor is home to the state’s only slots facility, which was allowed under a referendum approved by Mainers in November 2003.

The proposal allowed a so-called racetrack casino, or “racino,” at either of the state’s two existing harness-racing tracks in Bangor and Scarborough with local approval. Bangor voters gave approval for the machines, but Scarborough voters did not.

In the end, Bangor chose not to put the racino at the Bangor Raceway. Instead, it chose to put the facility across the street. That still met the requirement of being within a 2,000-foot radius of the track.

Penn National is moving forward with its proposal even though Westbrook-based No Slots for ME, which pushed unsuccessfully for a 2006 vote to ban slot machines, is seeking to gather enough signatures to get the measure on next year’s ballot.

Tom Palmer, a hotelier and Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce board chairman, said the temporary facility already was generating spinoff business at local hotels, the Bangor Mall and other places.

“Their numbers are all up and that’s been steady since November” when the temporary slots parlor opened, he said.