Maine Racino Gets Green Light

Published: November 3, 2010 11:02 am EDT

Biddeford Residents have given an overwhelming vote of support to the proposed Biddeford Downs Racino. When the votes were counted, 'yes' votes totaled 4,636 and 'no' votes totaled 3,244. The vote now allows Ocean Properties and Scarborough Downs to work with city leaders toward developing a first-class racino

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Tom Walsh, founder of Ocean Properties, said, "This is a fantastic opportunity for the state. We will be creating more than 500 good-paying, full-time jobs, hundreds of construction jobs and millions of dollars in revenue to the City of Biddeford and the State of Maine, while creating a wonderful destination that will celebrate Maine's equestrian history."

The facility will contain a harness racing track, entertainment complex, hotel and slot machines at a site under consideration off Andrews Road. Scarborough Downs owner Sharon Terry, who has been working for over a decade to preserve Maine harness racing, said, "Partnering with Ocean Properties and the City of Biddeford on this project will save Maine harness and keep our industry robust. In addition, this project and harness racing are important in preserving open space and working family farms. I know I speak for thousands of Mainers on family farms associated with harness racing when I say, 'thank you to the residents of Biddeford; your support and confidence are bringing new hope to our proud industry.'"

In 2003, Maine voters approved racinos at Maine's two commercial tracks, but a requirement for immediate local approval meant that only the Bangor racino has so far opened. Scarborough Downs' attorney Ed MacColl explained, "Biddeford Downs requires a correction in the unfair deadline in Maine's existing racino law; and the Oxford referendum, if successful, includes other language that we'll need to correct. We are confident, though, that the Maine legislature, which has always been a great friend of harness racing, and the people of Maine will understand that Biddeford Downs is an important opportunity and that the needed statutory changes are a matter of common sense and fundamental fairness."

Ocean Properties and Scarborough Downs wish to thank the City Council and Mayor Twomey for allowing the vote and all Biddeford residents for their warm welcome and for tonight's result, which allows negotiations to move forward on a project that promises a bright future for Maine harness racing and for the great City of Biddeford."

(MEharness.com)

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I was at Scarbough a few weeks ago, for the first time in over a decade. Nothing had changed, including the clientele. It was sad scenario. That said, I have huge respect for the Maine Harness philosophy and model. This is a small market and with some upgrades (slots), the industry has a chance. They have tried, unlike some much larger markets in this country, that live in the "we built it, they will come" world of the 50's, 60's, 70's. Bon chance, Maine.