Lewiston’s community and business leaders are throwing their support behind a ballot question asking voters to approve a casino in Maine’s second-largest city, while an animal-rights group is opposing a separate question calling for racinos in southern and eastern Maine.

A casino in downtown Lewiston would create short- and long-term jobs, generate revenue and revive the downtown, supporters say. Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert said he doesn’t know of any organized local opposition to Question 3 on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The Lewiston City Council and the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council are endorsing the project.

A group of the area’s political and business leaders plans a news conference today to express support for the casino. Supporters plan to announce the creation of a political action committee in support of the project.

Dennis Bailey, executive director of Casinos No!, said community leaders are fooling themselves if they think a casino will help revitalize the city.

“There isn’t a town in America where a casino has improved a downtown or revived a downtown or brought business downtown,” Bailey said. “In fact, it does the opposite. It drives business away.”

Meanwhile, an animal-rights organization that ran an unsuccessful referendum campaign in 2004 seeking to outlaw the use of bait, traps or dogs to hunt bears is urging voters to oppose Question 2 on the ballot, proposing two new racinos in Maine.

Developers are proposing a $120 million racino complex in Biddeford, which they say would create 800 construction jobs and 500 full-time jobs. If approved, Biddeford Downs is projected to open in 2013. The Passamaquoddy Tribe would have the right to build a separate racino in eastern Maine, presumably in Calais, but the tribe has not introduced specific plans.

The head of Maine Friends of Animals said in a prepared statement that harness racing is a cruel sport that abuses horses. Robert Fisk Jr. said many harness racing horses are kept in inhumane conditions, drugged to enhance their performance and discarded after their racing days are over.

Don Marean, a horse farm owner from Hollis who has been involved in the harness racing industry for decades, said Fisk’s assertions are untrue. Marean supports the Biddeford Downs proposal because it would boost the harness racing industry, he said.

“I’ve been in this industry for 30 years,” Marean said. “Harness racing people take real good care of their horses.”