Maine Casino and Card Room Gaming
After the 2003 referendum authorizing slots facilities near Maine's horse racing tracks, state law mandated that Bangor Racetrack and Casino – or racino – give 39% of its net slots revenue to various initiatives. That funding formula, known as the "cascade," was created by lawmakers and industry representatives. For example, the Fund for a Healthy Maine receives 10% of net slots revenue, while Maine's public universities and community colleges receive 3% for scholarships. However, 21% of the money – more than $11.4 million in 2009 – flowed to the horse industry or Maine's agricultural fairs. In 2010, the legislature looked at redrafting the cascade funding formula to push more of the horse and agricultural industry to colleges and Healthy Maine initiatives. This proposal was met with controversy from the horse racing lobby.
In November 2008, voters were given a chance to decide whether to build a racino somewhere in southern or western Maine in a statewide referendum. Other items on the referendum were lowering the gambling age from 21 to 19, a 10-year moratorium on building other casinos in Maine, and removal of limits on the number of slot machines allowed in the state. The measure failed to pass.
In May 2009, a legislative committee sent a bill to allow casino gambling in western Maine to the full legislature for debate. The committee also called for a study to establish a clear gambling policy for the state. The measure was presented to voters in a statewide referendum in November 2010 and passed by a narrow margin.
The second casino in Maine, Oxford Casino, opened on June 5, 2012, in the western Maine town of Oxford. Kentucky-based Churchill Downs bought Oxford Casino for $160 million in 2013.
In late 2014, a legislative committee discussed a study from industry management and advisory firm WhiteSand Gaming. The study focuses on the idea that any expansion of gambling in Maine needs to be pursued based on a competitive bidding process. Lawmakers will continue to discuss casino expansion throughout 2015.
In March 2016, the Maine Senate voted 18-16 against legislation that would have seen the establishment of a resort-style gambling property in the southern part of the state, in York or Cumberland counties.
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