Proponents of today’s ballot proposal to allow a casino in Oxford County have spent more than $3 million on the campaign.

The political action committee Maine Taxpayers Taking Charge filed 24-hour expenditure reports totaling $158,590, bringing its total to $3,150,000.

It has used some of that cash on an ad blitz in the last two weeks of the campaign. On Sunday, the campaign ran 30-minute commercials on four TV stations.

Opponents, who have spent less than $600,000, say the spending by casino supporters amounts to a business investment. A victory at the polls today will give them a monopoly on a gambling operation that will reap huge profits, said Dennis Bailey of Casinos No!

“It shows what’s really at stake here is they are chasing a pot of gold,” Bailey said. “They know if they get a license to own a casino, they will make their money back in a matter of months.”

The casino in Oxford County would be the only one in Maine with table games, like poker and blackjack. And Question 1 on the ballot would prohibit any other casino within a 100-mile radius.

Robert Lally Jr., treasurer of Maine Taxpayers Taking Charge and a partner in Black Bear Entertainment, the company behind the casino proposal, said the investors are prominent Maine business people who want to build a business that creates jobs and boosts tourism in western Maine.

“These are Maine owners doing business here and creating thousands of jobs in a county with double-digit unemployment,” he said.

Money for the campaign has come primarily from Black Bear Entertainment. Beside Lally, the owners include Rupert and Suzanne Grover, who founded Grover Gundrilling Inc. in Norway; Stephen Barber, former president of Barber Foods in Portland, and his wife, Mary Barber; Jim Boldebook, founder of Creative Broadcast Concepts in Biddeford; and Gary and Robert Bahre, former owners of the Oxford Plains Speedway.

Lally said the group has had to spent a lot money to educate voters and counter the “doom and gloom” scenarios about casinos that simply aren’t true.

In addition, he said, casino backers must fight a “second front” against Penn National Gaming, which owns and operates Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway in Bangor. The Pennsylvania-based company has contributed $285,000 to the political action committee Citizens Against the Oxford Casino.

Casinos No! has received $326,000. The largest contributor is Leon Gorman, chairman of the board of L.L. Bean.

 

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: [email protected]