AUGUSTA — Voters will decide in November whether to allow a casino in York County.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap confirmed in a written statement that Horseracing Jobs Fairness, a group leading a citizen’s initiative petition effort “An Act To Allow Slot Machines Or a Casino in York County,” had submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the November referendum ballot.

Horseracing Jobs Fairness tried to get the question on the 2016 ballot, but failed to get enough valid signatures. Petitioners have submitted more than 87,000 valid signatures between the two efforts, according to a press release from Department of the Secretary of State Director of Communications Kristen Schulze Muszynski.

State law requires a minimum of 61,123 valid signatures, which is 10 percent of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election, for a successful citizens’ initiative effort, according to Muszynski.

If passed, the proposed legislation would allow a facility with slot machines or a casino in York County. The proposed casino would have to be approved by municipal officers or voters in the municipality in which it is located.

The suggested bill would exempt the proposed slot machine facility or casino from the current law which prohibits such facilities from being within 100 miles of another slot machine facility or casino. It would also increase the number of registered slot machines allowed in the state from 3,000 to 4,500.

The proposal limits the operation of the facility to “any entity that owned in 2003 at least 51 percent of an entity licensed to operate a commercial track in Penobscot County that conducted harness racing with pari-mutuel wagering on more than 25 days during calendar year 2002.”

According to the Bangor Daily News, this would qualify only one person: controversial Las Vegas businessman Shawn Scott.

Principal officer of Horseracing Job Fairness is listed as Lisa Scott of Miami, who is believed to be Shawn Scott’s sister. The treasurer is listed as Cheryl Timberlake of the Augusta consulting firm Capital Insights.

Lisa Scott said in a press release that Horesracing Jobs Fairness was created with three key principals in mind: To preserve the longstanding tradition of horse racing and its heritage in Maine, create good paying jobs and protect tax revenues for Maine.

“The approval of this initiative will preserve tens of millions of dollars in revenues that are currently being lost from Maine and going to other New England gaming locations,” said Lisa Scott. “These revenues can be kept in Maine. In light of the expanded gaming developments in Massachusetts, it is more critical than ever to protect the jobs and tax revenues in Maine.”

The proposed casino will not only protect tax revenues for the Maine harness racing industry but will provide millions of dollars for healthcare and education, she said.

The proposed facility would create 800 construction jobs and more than 1,000 permanent jobs, Lisa Scott said.

There have been several failed, previous attempts to allow for a casino and/or slot machines in York County. The Maine Senate last year rejected a bill to create a casino in Cumberland or York counties. In 2010, Biddeford voters endorsed a proposal for a slot machine parlor and harness racing track, but it failed to get the necessary approval in a statewide referendum the following year.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected] The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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