September 1, 2013

Subsidies for Maine horsemen shrink this summer

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

The state has put a hold on any further gambling until a 20-member commission can study its impact.

The commission, which meets this week for a second time, aims to create a competitive bidding process for future casinos and slot machine licenses. Scarborough Downs and the Passamaquoddy tribe in eastern Maine both want to operate casinos.

For now, the fair season will soon draw to a close with the Windsor Fair on Labor Day, followed by fairs in Oxford, Farmington and Fryeburg. Harness racing at the commercial tracks in Bangor and Scarborough continues until later in the season.

Wendy Ireland of the Maine Harness Horsemen's Association said she believes the weak economy is mostly to blame for troubles and the industry is holding its own.

Back in Falmouth, Graffam said that while he sees warning signs, he remains hopeful about the future because of the passion of those who work in the industry.

"I still have owners who are hooked on horses. That's been my thing, too. Once you experience owning a horse and doing what we do, it gets stuck in your blood and it's hard to walk away from it," Graffam said.

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