Southern Maine gambling could be a hot topic of debate yet again if a petition to see a casino referendum added to the 2016 ballot is successful. A petition drive has been taking place for a few days now, trying to see the only casino license available given to Shawn Scott, a developer from Las Vegas who funded a campaign for referendum to see Maine voters agree to allow slot machines to be located at the racetracks of the state.
The initiative by citizens of the state is being called ‘An act to allow slot machines or a casino in York County’ would give the Maine Gambling Control Board the authority to accept applications for a casino license. The only qualifying application would be for an entity that had control of a minimum of 51% of an entity licensed to operate in Penobscot County, a commercial track back in 2003.
Scott owned the Bangor Historic Track located in Penobscot County and then turned around and sold the venue to Penn National Gaming for $51 million. Penn National operates the Bangor facility, the Hollywood Slots Hotel and Raceway.
Basically the only individual who meets the criteria of the initiative is the group created by Shawn Scott. On December 16th, the registered initiative with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics saw support from the Horseracing Jobs Fairness group, of the committee for the ballot question. The principal officer of this committee is Lisa Scott, Shawn Scott’s sister.
The bill would allow the group owned by Shawn Scott to submit an application for licensing to operate slot machines as well as table games in York County. The operator would be exempt from the state law that prohibits a gaming facility from being opened within 100 miles of an existing gaming facility. The bill would also raise the limit of registered slot machines to 4,500 from 3,000.
Scott has been the subject of several lawsuits in the past, spread over several states. He faced a claim in 2005 that he had formed a fake political action committee and spread misleading information on the subject of a track trying to open a racino.
Currently, the committee has until February 1st to collect over 61,000 signatures for the measure to be added to the ballot in November. If the required number of signatures are not gathered by the deadline, the group can try to qualify for later elections.