PARIS — Oxford County commissioners are opposed to a bill that would allow Native American tribes to build a casino 50 miles from those in Oxford and Bangor, County Administrator Tom Winsor said on April 4.

Winsor said multiple representatives from Oxford County testified against LD 1144, “An Act to Authorize Tribal Gaming,” during a public hearing March 25 at the State House in Augusta. The bill would allow Native American tribes to operate a casino in southern Maine.

Testifying on behalf of Commissioners Steven Merrill, David Duguay and Timothy Turner, Winsor said they had major concerns about the bill, including having a gambling operation 50 miles from Oxford Casino and Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway in Bangor.

“We do believe development within 50 miles of an existing facility will effectively cannibalize income that is dedicated to the state and others from money out of current casinos’ operations,” Winsor testified.

Speaking at Thursday’s commission meeting, Winsor said, “The (Oxford) casino’s business is flat, and not growing, so they’re doing things like becoming a convention center more than a gambling center.”

He said another casino within a 100-mile radius could hurt an existing casino’s business.

In other matters, Winsor said the Newry Fire Department recently asked commissioners to consider providing a stipend for rescue calls in nearby unorganized territories.

Andover Fire and Rescue responds to injured or lost hikers on the Appalachian Trail and receives some money from the county for those costs.

“It would not be unusual for the county to provide a subsidy for rescue so they don’t feel burdened,” Winsor said.

Commissioners said the budget for 2019-20 is pretty much set so if money is given to Newry it will be taken away from someone else.

Commissioners agreed to get some numbers and research how other counties with unorganized territories reimburse departments for rescues.


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