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Committee Splits on Casino Bill

As they did a year ago, members of the Maine Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Services Committee have gone in different directions on the question of approving additional casinos in Maine.

A year ago the panel had a five-way split, and this year it is a three-way split.

The majority would authorize a new casino in southern Maine. Some would allow that but also authorize the state’s Indian tribes to have casinos.

Ellsworth Rep. Louis Luchini, a Democrat who co-chairs the committee, was among those voting against the bill in either form.

“Last session we brought in an expert consultant that gave us some recommendations on how best to expand our gaming industry, and I felt the proposals before us today largely ignored all of those recommendations,” he says.

Complicating an already complex situation are the petitions turned in to force a referendum on a York county casino. Lawmakers have been told if that effort is successful, any casino legislation approved by lawmakers would likely be considered a competing measure under the state constitution and would have to go on the ballot as well.