This initiated legislation amends the criteria for determining who is eligible to obtain a license to operate slot machines at commercial harness racing tracks in the state, and thereby authorizes the licensing of up to two additional slot machine facilities.
It authorizes the Maine Gambling Control Board to accept a licensing application for a slot machine facility from the person who is licensed to operate a commercial track within a 25-mile radius of the center of a commercial harness racing track that conducted harness racing with pari-mutuel wagering on more than 25 days during calendar year 2002. The Scarborough Downs track in Scarborough is the only one that fits these criteria (apart from the Bangor Raceway, which is already licensed). This means that the commercial track at Scarborough Downs could be relocated within 25 miles of its present site and its operator would still be eligible for a slot machine facility license. However, the track could not be relocated (or proposed to be relocated) to a site closer than Scarborough Downs is to the Oxford County casino after the Oxford County casino has been licensed and begun operation. Biddeford is one of the communities that is located within a 25-mile radius of the center of the track at Scarborough Downs but further away from the proposed site of the Oxford County casino.
The initiated bill also amends the definition of a "commercial track" at which a slot machine facility may be licensed to include a track owned and operated by a federally recognized Indian tribe, provided it meets certain criteria. The track must be located within 45 miles of the operating tribes Indian reservation and more than 90 miles from the center of the nearest existing commercial track that operates slot machines. Mileage is to be measured along the most commonly used roadway, as determined by the Maine Department of Transportation. The Bangor Raceway is the only existing commercial track that operates slot machines, and the locations that fit the distance criteria are predominantly within Washington County. To be eligible for a slot machine facility license, the new commercial track must be licensed to conduct harness racing on more than 25 days each calendar year after being granted a license by the Maine Harness Racing Commission.
To be licensed, the slot machine facility would have to be located on "the premises of a commercial track," which means within 200 feet of the outside edge of the racing oval. The voters of the host community would first have to approve the operation of slot machines by referendum vote at a local election held before December 31, 2013.
The initiative authorizes the Gambling Control Board to allow 1,500 slot machines to be registered at each commercial track licensed for slot machines after January 1, 2010.
Income from these slot machine facilities would be distributed according to a formula in existing law that calls for 1% of the gross slot machine income to be paid into the State's General Fund for administrative expenses of the Gambling Control Board, and 39% of the net slot machine income to be turned over to the Gambling Control Board for distribution in specified percentage amounts to the programs and entities listed in Title 8, section 1036, subsection 2. These include ten percent to supplement harness racing purses, three percent to the Gambling Control Board for administrative expenses, one percent to the host municipality, and amounts ranging from one to four percent to the Sire Stakes Fund, the Agricultural Fair Support Fund, the Fund for a Healthy Maine, scholarship funds at the University of Maine and Maine Community College Systems, the Fund to Encourage Racing at Maine's Commercial Tracks and the Fund to Stabilize Off-Track Betting Facilities.
If approved, this citizen initiated legislation would take effect 30 days after the Governor proclaims the official results of the election.
A "YES" vote is to enact the legislation.
A "NO" vote is to defeat the legislation.
Do you want to allow a slot machine facility at a harness racing track in Biddeford or another community within 25 miles of Scarborough Downs, subject to local approval, and at a harness racing track in Washington County, with part of the profits from these facilities going to support specific state and local programs?