AUGUSTA — For a decade, Sen. Linda Valentino’s efforts to give Maine more control over the expansion of casinos have fallen short.

But with a new report on her side as the state gears up for another fiery debate over gambling, Valentino believes she may finally be victorious.

“Things have finally lined up,” the Democrat from Saco said.

Many lawmakers have long lamented that Maine’s lack of a comprehensive gambling policy has allowed casino developers to write the rules and use the citizen initiative process to let voters decide their fate. As a result, the state had virtually no say over the license fees of the state’s two existing casinos, the size of the facilities and where the revenue goes.

Yet, attempts to change that have never come to fruition.

But a $150,000 report commissioned last year by the Legislature, which concluded that Maine has room for more casinos and provided a blueprint for establishing a competitive bidding process for granting licenses, is giving new hope to those who’ve promoted that idea for years as they begin to make another push next week.

Valentino’s proposal, which the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee will begin to examine on Monday, would set up five regions and direct the state to seek bids for casinos in the three regions that don’t already have one. The bid for a license would be $5 million – much higher than the roughly $200,000 initial fees paid by Oxford and Hollywood Casino.

But her measure and others in front of the committee that would open the door to more gambling will likely face staunch opposition from casino operators in Bangor and Oxford, who’ve warned that their businesses can’t handle any more competition.

The report, conducted by the New Jersey-based WhiteSand Gaming, suggested that the state would benefit from an additional casino in southern Maine and potentially another, smaller facility in Aroostook or Washington County, preferably operated by the state’s American Indian tribes.

But critics say putting too much confidence in a report done by a group that clearly has an interest in gambling is unwise, noting that WhiteSand consults for gambling corporations and manages casinos.

Longtime casino opponent, Carroll Conley, executive director of the Christian Civic League, said the report’s suggestion that a southern Maine casino would have just a 20 percent impact on Oxford’s profits in a state with just more than a million people is “laughable.”

Furthermore, he believes that allowing the state to authorize more casinos goes against the will of the people, who’ve made it clear they don’t want any more gambling by rejecting several casino proposals at the ballot box over the last several years.

“If these state representatives and senators listen to their constituents, I don’t think they’re going to succeed,” Conley said. “But if they listen to the powerful army of lobbyists that has been turned loose upon them, then they may.”

A spokeswoman for Oxford Casino said no one was available to comment.

Jose Flores, general manager of Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway, said the business has concerns about further expanding gambling in Maine. He pointed to a study done by Clyde Barrow, former director of the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which said Oxford “cannibalized” about $11.9 million or 19 percent of Hollywood’s net slot machine revenue in 2012 even though they’re a two-hour drive apart.

“Gaming is still a relatively new industry to Maine, and we are just now seeing what sort of a playing field exists with two operating casinos in this state,” he said in a statement.

Rep. Henry John Bear, who represents the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians in the Legislature and wants to bring a casino to his tribe in Aroostook County, said he believes that the tribe now has the best chance it’s ever had to get that accomplished.

“Something will happen,” he said. “There’s going to be some implementation of the gaming study recommendations.”

Valentino said she worries that if the Legislature doesn’t create a gambling policy this session, the groups pushing for casinos will again seek to get them approved at the polls and the Legislature’s hands will be tied. Lawmakers can’t make changes when referendums are pending unless they put it on the ballot as a competing measure, she said.

Furthermore, she says ignoring the report’s recommendations would be a waste.

“If the Legislature was going to take this report and just throw it away, then why did we spend the money to begin with?”