LEWISTON — The numbers are in. State officials announced Friday that enough signatures have been collected in support of a Lewiston casino to get the matter before the Legislature.

If lawmakers don’t approve the measure, it will appear as a ballot question in November, allowing Mainers to have their say.

“We’re obviously delighted,” said Stavros Mendros, who manages a casino investment group. “We’re ecstatic. We’re ready to move forward with the next step.”

Proponents of a slot machine facility in Lewiston were required to gather at least 57,277 signatures — 10 percent of turnout in the previous gubernatorial election — by Jan. 20.

They got those signatures and more. State officials then had to make sure the signatures were valid. Maine Secretary of State Charles Summers made the announcement Friday afternoon.

“After an exhaustive review,” he said in a news release, “we have determined that 59,095 signatures have been determined valid.”

In all, proponents collected 74,388 signatures. Of those, 15,293 were deemed invalid by state officials. The reasons for that varied. Among them: Some signatures were found to be duplicates, some were not certified by the registrar as belonging to registered voters in a particular municipality and some signatures were withdrawn.

The announcement was happy news for the investment group that formed Great Falls Recreation and Redevelopment LLC to support the casino.

Steve Roop, owner of the Roopers stores, is the newest member, announcing earlier this week that he had joined the group.

“My concern more than anything is for fellow businesses along the Lisbon Street corridor and restaurants, and things like that,” Roop said Wednesday. “I find that their vision for the casino is very positive.”

Voters in Lewiston approved an agreement in June, giving the casino group the option to purchase Bates Mill No. 5, the saw-tooth-roofed building along Main Street, for $150,000.

The group, which made its first payment to the city in June, has estimated the casino would return between $21 million and $30 million to state, regional and local governments each year.


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