AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate voted Tuesday night to allow the Hollywood Slots racino in Bangor to become a full-fledged casino and rejected a bill to allow development of a casino in Lewiston.

Senators voted 21-12 for L.D. 1418, which would let Hollywood Slots add table games as soon as the casino in Oxford County that Maine voters approved last year opens for business.

“Like it or not, it’s here, people. Maine is a gaming state; we’ve got to accept that,” Sen. Nancy Sullivan, D-Biddeford, said during debate on the measure.

Last week, lawmakers voted in support of legislation to allow racinos in Biddeford and Washington County.

On Tuesday, arguments on both bills fell along regional lines, rather than partisan ones.

Opponents of Lewiston’s casino said that project, unlike the proposed racinos, has nothing to do with helping Maine’s harness racing industry and would compete directly with the casino in the town of Oxford.

“Do we think that two of these facilities will survive within 17 miles of each other?” said Sen. David Hastings, R-Fryeburg, whose district includes Oxford. “This should be given to the people to let them decide. At least one of them is doomed.”

Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, wasn’t convinced.

“Here we go again, where everybody deserves something except for Lewiston,” Craven said.

“Fair is fair,” she said. “What’s good for one area of the state is good for another area of the state.”

Senators turned down Lewiston’s bill, L.D. 985, by a vote of 20-13.

The bill is before the Legislature as a citizens initiative, so if it is rejected by lawmakers it must go on a statewide ballot.

Gov. Paul LePage has said he will veto the bill if it passes, along with the proposal for racinos in Biddeford and Washington County, so Maine voters can decide whether to allow an expansion of gambling.

Last week, the Senate cast a preliminary vote against Lewiston’s bill, while the House endorsed it.

That measure and the proposal for Hollywood Slots face further votes.

 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: [email protected]