A crowd estimated by press reports at 150, representing both sides of the question, gathered at a public hearing in Biddeford, Maine on Monday evening (Oct. 4) to discuss a proposed racino that would replace harness racing Scarborough Downs and be located in Biddeford.
The discussion came four weeks before local voters will be asked to approve the project, which is being proposed by Scarborough Downs and Ocean Properties, Ltd. -- the latter founded by prominent Standardbred owner Tom Walsh.
The three-hour session featured citizen comments about jobs, gaming addition, crime and morality.
Development of the racino, which according to developers will bring 500 full-time jobs and $5 million in direct annual revenue to Biddeford, hinges on more than the November vote of that town's citizens: A state law permitting racinos approved by local option had a sunset clause, and action from the Maine Legislature or a citizen ballot initiative would also be needed to advance the project.
Twice before, in 2003 and 2008, citizens of Scarborough voted against granting permission to build a racino at Scarborough, which has left the track to pursue other possible locations.
by John Pawlak, the U.S. Trotting Association