DIXFIELD – Maine people have granted the rights to a new casino in Oxford.

I was a “no” vote, but, just as in the case of Hollywood Slots, I believe in honoring the will of the people.

We have now banished Dennis Bailey and the Casinos No! folks to historic record. Casinos No! will no longer be a factor in Maine, and the only limit that will be imposed on gambling expansion will be the one dictated by gambling operators.

They will fight like cats and dogs over money and territory. Maine people, however, should take careful note of what this vote created. The door for gambling expansion is now wide open.

Our politicians have made their positions on gambling clear. Gov.-elect Paul LePage expressed his belief that local communities should decide for themselves whether or not they want gambling.

This is in stark contrast to Gov. John Baldacci, who insisted on a statewide vote in every case.

REPUBLICAN SUPPORT

We now have a Republican-controlled Legislature, and many in leadership are gambling proponents. Incoming Senate President Kevin Raye has fought for gambling, and his assistant, Sen. Debra Plowman, has done the same.

Over in the House, former Minority Leader Josh Tardy was instrumental in electing members.

He and his dad, Bob, will lobby for gambling interests, and Republicans will be hard pressed to go against the two party Tardys.

The proponents are good people, and they are entitled to their opinions. Gambling interests have sold them on the concept that casinos are tools for economic development.

Although the history of gambling disputes this conclusion, they won the day and have a right to move forward.

These politicians should understand, however, that the same arguments that were successful for them will now be fodder for others in arguing for their projects. It would be hypocritical not to apply the same job-creation standards to all areas that want gambling, and to conclude the same results will occur. Let them compete. What is fair is fair.

So here is where Maine now stands. Hollywood Slots is asking for table games.

The voters said yes in Oxford. How can the politicians say no to Bangor? Lewiston wants a casino. If it is good economic development for Oxford, then it must be good for Lewiston.

If 2,700 jobs will be created in Oxford, then certainly 10,000 could be added in Lewiston.

As for racinos, Biddeford said “yes” to a new racetrack with slots. Sen. Raye wants the same near Calais.

Why not?

At a minimum, we shall soon have three full casinos and two new racinos in Maine, and that is if no one else applies.

Lewiston, Biddeford, and Washington County should not be required to go to statewide vote. The new leadership and governor are clearly on record saying it is not necessary.

The Legislature can approve and/or change anything it wishes.

Again, what is fair is fair. Inevitable expansion, however, brings new challenges, responsibilities, and costs.

We need to adopt rules to govern table games, and we need to add new employees and expand technical abilities to protect the public.

We now have a Gambling Control Board with no institutional memory and no idea how to approach the enormous workload ahead.

The Legislature is going to have to create laws that give real teeth to oversight control, and provide the millions of dollars needed to accomplish that mission.

The Legislature must stop micromanaging gambling. Gambling regulation and authority must be set up similar to the PUC, and the Legislature needs to put all gambling oversight under one roof.

ONE STOP SHOPPING

This should include racinos, casinos, lottery, harness racing, bingo, etc. It must include operator licensing and enforcement.

This will save our state millions of dollars and bring consistency and accountability to the process. It is my recommendation that all this be placed under the Lottery Commission within the Department of Finance.

Finally, the new chairman of the Republican Party, Charlie Webster, is a breath of fresh air. He cares about the average working guy in Maine, and I believe he will use his influence to do what is right for Maine people.

He must work with our new good governor to stop the endless payoffs to entities within, and without, state government.

The Legislature has the authority to strip all designated beneficiaries of gambling proceeds. All it needs is the collective will.

All money collected by the state from gambling enterprises should accrue to the general fund, and be budgeted for the good of all Maine people.