The court said a referendum was the appropriate venue to deal with issues.

PORTLAND (AP) – A judge Friday refused to throw out a ballot question on whether to allow an Indian casino in Maine, setting the stage for a November referendum on the issue.

Rejecting a lawsuit by casino opponents, Superior Court Justice Robert Crowley concluded that the question is understandable and would not mislead reasonable voters familiar with the proposed legislation.

Casinos No! and state Sen. Ethan Strimling, D-Portland, had filed suit against Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky, who approved the language of the ballot question last October.

The Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes, who want to develop a $650 million dollar casino and resort in southern Maine, then collected enough signatures to force the referendum.

Opponents argued that the question wrongfully suggested that a portion of gambling revenues was guaranteed to be spent on education and distributed to municipalities.

Crowley, citing an earlier case that went before the Supreme Judicial Court, said “ambiguities, complexities and omissions in the legislation” are more appropriately addressed during the referendum campaign.

Dennis Bailey of the opposition group Casinos No! expressed disappointment at Crowley’s ruling. “We still believe that the question was written to disguise its true intention,” he said.

He said Casinos No! would be talking with its lawyers before deciding whether to appeal the decision to the law court.

Casino backers said that if the courts rejected the wording of the question, there would be no chance to put the measure on the ballot this year.



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