With the aim of revitalizing a faltering campaign to push for a casino in Oxford County, Maine, a Las Vegas developer has stepped forward with a $100 Million investment offer. It is now down to state voters in November, who have the opportunity to make this a reality.
Evergreen Mountain Enterprises was at the center of a legal battle over this move, causing Rumford Layer, Seth Carey to abandon the long running campaign. Las Vegas developer, Olympia Group bought over Evergreen Mountain Enterprises and vowed to press for the new casino in Maine.
Yesterday, Pat LaMarche spokesperson for the campaign and former gubernatorial candidate insisted the move would be ideal for Oxford County’s Economic growth. She accused casino critics of scare mongering and spreading misinformation about the move.
Olympia Gaming’s vice chairman, Dean Harrold suggested that people should look beyond their preconceived stereotypical views on casino gambling and focus on the positive economic outcomes. He went on to say that this new project would provide over 800 jobs. Employees’ could expect great salaries and other fringe benefits, that this investment would be a major boost to the state’s economy.
“It’s not about gaming. It’s not about resorts. That’s not what this is about. This is about jobs, this is about Maine and that’s the reason we’re here.”
Personally, I don’t believe a word of that statement. Dean Harrold is a hard nosed businessman. He is out to make money, plain and simple, but I do believe that the $100 Million investment would be a massive boost to the local economy. Not only would it bring 800 people good paying jobs but it would also have a ripple effect due to the increased disposable income.
In times of recession, we cannot turn away those sorts of opportunities. If you put it in Economics101 terms, local shopkeepers will see an increase in sales. This will produce more jobs. This proposed investment could reach out far beyond the gaming sector.
Carey’s departure looked as though it put the final nails in the coffin. Olympia’s late intervention has rejuvenated hope.
Olympia has already established a casino in Carson City, Nevada. They are deeply involved in three other ongoing casino projects. They are a very powerful, forward thinking company and currently possess a planning permit which will allow them to develop a further five casinos in the state of Nevada.
Harrold, a former president and chief operating officer at the famous Caesar’s Palace stated:
“We’re known for getting it right and doing it right, and I assure you this, that when we come to Maine, we’ll do it right here.”
He went on to say:
“Carey will remain a minority investor in the casino project but has no say in Olympia’s decision making.”
As yet, Olympia have not come to an agreement over the location for the proposed casino. Their aim is to finalize the proposed site before the general elections on November 4th. They intend to include both table games and slot machines.
In 2003, Mainers were dead set against the idea of a state of the art casino within their boundaries. “Casinos NO!” organizer, Dennis Bailey still assumes the local feeling is the same as 2003 when they point blank rejected a tribal-backed casino in Sanford. He is on the assumption that the only real economic winners of this plan would be its Nevada based owners.
Mr Bailey said:
“The Oxford County casino proposal was sold to Maine voters and the petition signers as a Maine-owned and operated casino. Now, less than two months before the election we are told that the real owners are a Las Vegas outfit whose only interest is taking money from Maine people to fill their vault in Nevada.”
Bailey is also concerned about the current referendum’s wording, noting that as it stands, the legal age for gamblers in the state of Maine would be reduced from 21 to 18. Although Harrold claimed he was against the idea of lowering the legal gambling age, it was too late to make any amendments to the referendum.
LaMarche was more forthcoming with her opinion, stating:
“You will hear the doom and gloom and that the world’s coming to an end if Question 2 passes. And just like every other time they’ve told you this, it will be a lie,”
Harrold and LaMarche indicated that Mariners would vote in the interest of their local economy. They pointed out that Mariners visited the Mohegan Sun and Foxwood Casinos over 271,000 times in the past year. In the last three years they have spend in the region of $100 million, in these two casinos alone. This means that Connecticut have benefited from the $13.4 million in tax money Mariners have donated at these two out-of-state casinos.
LaMarche said that gambling was already a widespread phenomenon within the borders of Maine, including places like Bangor, where Hollywood Slots already facilitates slot machine play. She insisted that it would be crazy for Mariners to pass up the opportunity to reap the benefits of a casino in their own state.
LaMarche went on to state:
“Every other type of gaming is already here. And you know what? Maine is still a really wonderful place to live.”
I don’t think LaMarche or Harrold care about how the new casino will affect the lives of those based in Maine. I do believe however, if the project gets the green light, it will be mutually beneficial.