June 2003

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June 11, 2003
Bangor approves racino concept

Bangor voters Tuesday approved a proposal by a Nevada businessman to install slot machines at Bass Park, with 57 percent in favor.

The final tally was 2,917 in favor of the proposal and 2,199 opposed. Turnout was 30.1 percent.

But before the slot machines become a reality, Maine voters must approve of slot machines during the regular election in November.

June 4, 2003
Raceway operator not cooperative, state says
Bangor voters to decide racino issue June 10

Shawn Scott and Capital Seven should not receive a permanent harness racing license, according to Maine Assistant Attorney General John Richards.

The assistant attorney general's recommendation last week comes only days from a special election in Bangor in which voters will decide whether they want slot machines at Bass Park.

Scott and his company Capital Seven have a provisional racing license to operate Bangor Raceway at Bass Park. Richards says the state harness racing commission should deny Scott a permanent license because Scott has failed to provide releases for background information the state wants from Nevada, Louisiana and New York, where Scott has done business in casinos and harness racetracks.

Maine law requires racetrack operators to have good moral character and be financially responsible. The attorney general's office asked Scott to sign a release waiving Nevada, Louisiana and New York officials from legal action on information the states might provide. Richards has asked for a June 6 hearing before the Maine racing commission to consider the matter.

Attorneys for Scott have filed an objection to the proposed hearing. They claim the state's request for information is too broad and would include virtually any document. They also claim that Scott provided releases by the May 10 deadline, just not in the form the attorney general wanted them.

If the racing commission denies Scott a permanent license, Capital Seven's proposal to conduct a $30 million overhaul of Bass Park would become moot. The proposed overhaul would involve building a new and enclosed grandstand, new clubhouse, new barns, a restaurant, movie theater complex, 210-suite hotel and a slot machine parlor. Capital Seven is the only company that has expressed interest in redeveloping Bass Park, which opened in 1883 as Maplewood Park. Owner Joseph Bass bequeathed the park to the city of Bangor when he died in 1919. The city took control in 1933.

Bangor voters will decide on June 10 whether the city will allow slot machines at the park. If Bangor voters approve the machines, Maine voters will have the final say in November.

A study by economic researchers at the University of Maine concluded that if slot machines were installed at Bass Park the machines would generate $75 million in revenue annually and spawn $96 million in revenue to local businesses, such as restaurants, stores and hotels. Patrons would be from Maine, New Hampshire, Quebec and New Brunswick, the researchers said. The so-called racino would employ 314 with a payroll of about $5 million.

The researchers did not examine what effects the racino would have on the area's crime rate or its effect on costs related to compulsive gambling.

To make the racino proposal more inviting, Capital Seven offered last week to guarantee the city $1 million from the slots, up to a maximum of $2.5 million.

If Bangor voters reject a racino and Maine voters approve of the idea, Scott might try to get approval from Brewer, Orrington, Hampden or Hermon to build a racino outside of Bangor.

Capital Seven isn't facing any organized opposition to the racino plan, but it has opened a campaign office on Central Street, taken out ads in the Bangor Daily News, sent campaign ads to residents and peppered city streets with signs.