BIDDEFORD – Biddeford voters on Tuesday gave rousing approval to a plan to build a racino within city limits.

Residents voted 4,636-3,244 in favor of a referendum asking whether they favored the operation of slot machines at a commercial harness racing track in Biddeford.

The racino, which would be developed by Scarborough Downs and Ocean Properties Ltd. on about 88 acres of city-owned land off Andrews Road and west of the Maine Turnpike, includes moving the entire Scarborough Downs harness racing operation to Biddeford and constructing a 200-room hotel along with up to 1,500 slot machines, as well as other amenities.

It would likely be a minimum of two years before the racino would open. Biddeford Downs would need a change in a state law to allow a second racino in Maine. If the Oxford casino project is also successful, Biddeford Downs would need an exemption to operate within 100 miles of that facility.

In the days leading up the election, the group Citizens Against a Bad Deal argued that preserving Biddeford’s quality of life should trump approval of the $125 million racino on Election Day.

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