Builders’ association supports Passamaquoddy racino proposal

August, Maine (AP) 10-07

Associated Constructors of Maine’s board has voted to support Question 1 on the Nov. 6 ballot, which would allow the Passamaquoddy Tribe to run a harness racing track and slot machine facility, and high-stakes bingo, in Washington County.

The constructors group said the proposed destination-style racino would result in the investment of tens of millions of dollars in Calais where it would likely be built. It represents an important economic development opportunity for the Down East region that will have a ripple effect throughout eastern and northern Maine, the group said.

“The Passamaquoddy (Tribe) has done a service to all Maine people by putting this project forward. The project will mean jobs for Maine workers, opportunities for Maine companies and provide a catalyst for other development Down East,” said the constructors’ Maine chapter president, Eldon Morrison.

The association represents more than 275 construction-related businesses in Maine.

Project opponents say a racino would take advantage of people who can’t afford to gamble and drain money from the local and state economy. Groups opposing the racino include the Christian Civic League of Maine.

Gov. John Baldacci does not support passage of the referendum, but he is not taking an active role in the campaign. Baldacci and the state Gambling Control Board, which regulates slot operations in the state, have called for a moratorium on new gaming operations.

Legislation to allow the Penobscot Indian Nation to operate 400 slot machines during high-stakes bingo games on their reservation in Old Town has been carried over to the 2008 session.

A Rumford-based group has launched an initiative campaign to allow a casino in western Maine’s Oxford County, and another group has taken steps toward a referendum to ban slot machines in the state.