OXFORD — At 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Oxford casino referendum was too close to call.

Question 1 took an early lead as results from the first few districts trickled in. With about 23 percent of precincts reporting, the yes votes held a 4 percent lead at 52 percent.

Polls of likely voters over the past month have shown the casino leading with as many as 13 points. Casino supporters were cautiously optimistic going into Election Day.

Pro-casino group Maine Taxpayers Taking Charge represented Black Bear Entertainment, the group of Maine investors who would fund the casino if approved.

Rob Lally, a Black Bear Entertainment investor and a real estate developer, said the pro-casino group was optimistic at their campaign headquarters in Paris. “We know it’s close, but we hope it passes so we can get up tomorrow and get to work.”

The anti-casino coalition was a diverse one. In Norway, the Oxford Hills No on 1 campaign included pastors and business owners from around the county. Moose Pond Arts and Ecology co-founders Scott and Zizi Vlaun led the group.

“We’re on the edge of our seat,” Scott Vlaun said Tuesday night. “We’re hanging in. We’re still hopeful.”

CasinosNo! has been around since 2002 to oppose casino referendums across Maine. With 3,000 members, CasinosNo! has fought several casino proposals in recent years, including a 2008 referendum for an Oxford County casino.

Finally, Citizens Against the Oxford Casino included gambling interests that would be hurt by an Oxford Hills casino, such as Hollywood Slots and the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association. The Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs was also a sponsor.

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