Gambling entrepreneur, Oxford Casino at odds over new casino

October 27, 2017

FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 19, 2003, file photo Shawn Scott testifies during a hearing before the Maine Harness Racing Commission, in Augusta, Maine. The out-of-state gambling entrepreneur pocketed tens of millions of dollars after his successful referendum to create Maine's first casino in Bangor. Critics say he's poised to do it again. Scott emerged as a key backer of a new casino proposal on the Nov. 7 ballot after his sister retreated from her fundraising role amid an investigation over the source of $4.3 million in donations. (AP Photo/Joel Page, File)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A pro-casino political action committee received $2.5 million from gambling entrepreneur Shawn Scott’s Capital Seven LLC in the month before residents vote on a casino that only he’d be allowed to run, according to a report filed Friday.

Progress for Maine reported spending most of the money, $2.3 million, in the latest campaign disclosure.

The main PAC opposed to the casino, A Bad Deal for Maine, reported $700,000 in contributions, virtually all from the parent company of the existing Oxford Casino, which could lose customers if there’s a new casino.

All told, the campaign supporting a new casino has spent $9 million, including more than $4 million to gather signatures. The opposition has only spent $600,000.

Voters will have the final say on Nov. 7 on the proposal for the state’s third casino at a yet-to-be-known location in York County. The referendum is worded in such a way that only Scott or one of his entities could run it.

Critics say Scott is abusing the citizen referendum process by buying his way onto the ballot, much the way he did in 2003 in Bangor. He sold rights to operate the casino in that city to Penn National, which created Hollywood Slots.

Scott has said on two radio shows that he intends to operate the casino, not sell the license, which is said to be worth $200 million.

Supporters say the casino would be a boon for schools because of the tax revenue it would bring in. Opponents of the referendum are calling it a “wicked shady deal” in advertising.

Critics include Republican Gov. Paul LePage. “Maine’s referendum process has been hijacked by big money, out-of-state interests hoping to pull the wool over your eyes,” the governor has said.

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