The latest campaign finance reports filed with the Maine’s ethics commission, show that the pro-casino group, Progress for Maine, poured $8.4 million into its drive to have citizens sign in favor of building a third casino in the state. The reports show how the campaign backfired, with just 57,280 voting in favor of allowing a casino in York County during the November 2017 referendum. This was one of the costliest campaigns in Maine history, and it was estimated that $146 per vote was spent on the doomed attempts. The 83-17% margin was the result of only 57,280 voters supporting the casino, with 285,372 rejecting it.
On Wednesday last week, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices discussed the financing of the failed, multi million dollar attempts to build a third brick and mortar casino in the state.
In November this year, the same ethics committee issued a record $500,000 in fines against the four committees that were the driving forces behind the referendum vote to allow a third casino. Among the charges levied against the committees was the fact that they missed numerous deadlines for filing disclosures that revealed who was funding the casino campaign. Following the issuing of the fine, lawyers for the pro-casino group said that it was “grossly disproportionate” and announced that an appeal would be sought.
In 2003, the man behind the initiative to bring a new casino to the state, Shawn Scott convinced voters to allow his Bangor horse racetrack to build on a casino. The gaming rights were then sold to Penn National gaming operator for over $50 million. His return this year to Maine, however, did not have as much of a clout as the first time around, leading to the failed referendum.
The understatement of the campaign was Scott’s admission following the votes that “this didn’t go our way”.