Existing Maine Casinos Don’t Want More

The two casinos in Maine, the Hollywood Casino in Bangor and the Oxford Casino (l.), are not happy about a study that recommends that the state could absorb two more casinos.

A recent report to the Maine legislature that the state could easily absorb another casino and maybe a small one is not the favorite reading of the two casinos that already operate in the state, the Oxford Casino and the Hollywood Casino in Bangor.

They say they worry that more casinos will cause the dreaded “cannibalization” Last week they criticized the report issued last month by WhiteSand Gaming. The Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee commissioned the report.

The report recommended that another casino be allowed in the southern part of the state and possibly a small one near the Canadian border.

The Oxford casino pointed out that the report projects that it would lose 20 percent of its business to cannibalization. The two casinos in the state have previously lobbied lawmakers to prevent more gaming from being allowed. So far they have succeeded.

According to a spokesman for Oxford, “Maine’s gambling revenues have flattened. Our concern is that additional casinos in Maine, or in neighboring states such as Massachusetts or New Hampshire, will have a direct negative impact to jobs and economic development, not only at the casino property but also as it relates to rural Oxford County.”

Obviously they can do nothing about Massachusetts, although they are probably rubbing their rabbit’s feet hoping for a win by Question 3, but they might be able to influence legislators.

The spokesman added, “Any casino expansion in the southern Maine market will not only result in job losses but deter further economic development in Oxford County. Continued gaming expansion in the state is directly counter to how the citizens of Maine have voted nine out of the past 11 times.”

The Oxford Casino opened in 2012. It affected the revenues of the Hollywood Casino by about $9 million. The two casinos are separated by about 125 miles.

The Hollywood Casino’s revenues were $62.7 million in 2012. They fell to $54.6 million the following year and to $36.2 million this year with four months left in the year.

Bangor collects about $2.35 million in property taxes from the casino each year.

Last year Clyde Barrow, an expert on New England gaming, projected that the Bangor casino would be hit very hard by new casinos in the region, which he said would “destabilize” the state’s gaming market.

Although the WhiteSands report projects that the two existing casinos would lose some of their revenue, overall it projects higher casino revenue, including more taxes for the state. This has given ammunition to the arguments of tribes and fraternal organizations that also want to offer gaming.