AUGUSTA – Last week the Maine House of Representatives gave initial approval to a bill that would allow the Scarborough Downs harness racing track to add slot machines to its offerings if approved in a local vote.

This is the fourth time in the last 10 years that the track has tried to add gaming to its facility in an attempt to save the Downs and the harness racing industry in southern Maine.

The bill, L.D. 1111, which is entitled, “An Act to Allow Maine’s Harness Racing Industry to Compete with Casino Gambling,” was passed by the House on March 6 and now faces further votes on the House floor, as well as in the Senate.

Several weeks ago, Sharon Terry, owner of Scarborough Downs, argued before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee that allowing slots at the Downs is the only way to ensure it can fairly compete with the other two casinos in the state.

However representatives of those two facilities, the Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway in Bangor and the relatively new Oxford Casino, both argued to the committee that now is not the time to expand gaming options in Maine and said having slot machines at Scarborough Downs would simply act to dilute the gaming revenue now being generated.

– Kate Irish Collins

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