The backers of a ballot initiative asking voters to approve a casino in York County have spent more than $8.3 million on the effort, according to state election campaign finance reports filed Friday.

That figure includes just over $4 million in campaign expenditures by the political action committee Progress for Maine to promote the ballot measure, plus another $4.3 million spent by casino campaign committee Horseracing Jobs Fairness to collect voter signatures to get the referendum on the ballot.

Both committees have been funded largely by Shawn Scott, an international gambling entrepreneur who won voter approval to add slot machines to Bangor’s struggling horse track in 2003.

If the current initiative, Question 1 on the Nov. 7 state ballot, is approved, only Scott or a company owned by him would have the rights to build a casino in York County.

According to the campaign finance reports, filed with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, Progress for Maine took in $2.8 million in contributions from Oct. 1 through Wednesday, all from companies owned or co-owned by Scott.

It spent nearly $2.5 million during that same period, according to the reports. Expenditures included about $1.4 million on television ads; $50,000 to the Norridgewock-based law firm of former Maine Attorney General Andrew “Drew” Ketterer for “legal services” and $25,000 to the Aroostook Band of Micmacs in Presque Isle for “grassroots outreach and mobilization.”

The previous campaign finance report shows two prior payments of $50,000 each to Ketterer’s firm for legal services. Ketterer is representing Capital Seven LLC, a Las Vegas company owned by Scott and one of the campaign’s principal contributors, in a Maine Ethics Commission investigation of the campaign initiated in June. Ketterer is a former member of the Ethics Commission.

Progress for Maine issued a news release on Oct. 12 stating that the tribal council for the Aroostook Band of Micmacs had come out in support of Question 1, citing a promise by the casino’s backers to create “new, non-gaming economic opportunities for the tribe.”

“We’re proud to support Yes on Question 1 because the backers of the measure have made a commitment to the tribe – to help bring new economic opportunity to us so that we can continue on our path towards achieving self-reliance,” Edward Peter-Paul, tribal chief of the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, said in the release. “Though we are a federally recognized tribe, we receive no funding from the Oxford Casino and its Kentucky-based ownership – Churchill Downs Inc. Yes on 1 wants to fix that for us.”

The news release made no mention of a $25,000 payment by the campaign to the tribe.

As of Thursday, Progress for Maine had outspent its opposition, the anti-casino PAC A Bad Deal for Maine, by nearly 7 to 1 on campaign efforts, according to the campaign finance reports. The anti-casino effort filed its report Thursday, stating that it had spent just over $600,000.

A Bad Deal for Maine is headed by conservative political consultants Trevor Bragdon and Roy Lenardson.

According to the report, its expenditures were funded almost entirely by $700,000 in donations from Black Bear Development LLC, the business name for Oxford Casino, which is owned by the Kentucky-based Churchill Downs Inc.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @jcraiganderson