BANGOR (AP) – The deadline for issuing a gaming license for Maine’s first racetrack casino passed Thursday, but state officials insisted the project is on track despite the missed deadline.

The Sept. 30 deadline was set in the state law that paved the way for 1,500 slot machines to be installed at the Bangor Raceway and in an executive order aimed at jump-starting the rules-making process.

But both the law and the governor made allowances for extending the deadline if circumstances warranted it.

Lee Umphrey, the governor’s spokesman, said the date was “never cast in cement” and suggested it was prudent to move cautiously. “You have one chance to start up a new industry and start it right,” he said.

George McHale, chairman of the Maine Gambling Control Board, agreed that the project is on track. “We are not behind schedule,” McHale said Wednesday. “We are ahead of schedule.”

Deliberations on Penn National Gaming’s application for a harness racing license hit a snag in September.

Penn National, which is a publicly traded company, is willing to provide balances and identification numbers for the personal accounts of company officials and their families. But it does not want this information to be made available to the public.

The same may be true of propriety information.

State officials and Penn National spokesman Eric Schippers expect that those details will be ironed out at the next Maine Harness Racing Commission meeting on Oct. 14.

If the racing license is given to Penn National, then the next step will be to apply for a gaming license.

The $200,000 fee would be the first revenues for the new state gambling control board.

Obtaining a state gaming license is the crucial initial step in Penn National’s $30 million to $50 million plan to establish Maine’s first racetrack casino, or racino, at Bass Park. Penn National also has been working to fine-tune a site plan for its racino complex.

Schippers said the timetable has not been a problem because the company doesn’t plan to break ground until next May. “From our standpoint, the project is right on track,” he said.

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