Casino supporters and opposition square off in debate | News

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Casino supporters and opposition square off in debate
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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- With less than three weeks till election day, those in favor and against a proposed resort casino in Oxford presented their cases to business leaders in Southern Maine.

"One thing that no one is going to dispute is that there will be job creation as part of this proposal," said Rob Lally, speaking in favor of Question One on november's ballot.    "You look at the economy.  You look at unemployment.  We compete for that disposable income.  As a tourism industry, which is so critical to Maine, we have to compete for those dollars and a four season resort will definitely bring people to Maine."

"These are a bad deal for Maine.  This is not what Maine is all about," said Dennis Bailey, a spokesperson for Casinos No.  "There is no evidence anywhere in America where a state or a community or a county has brought in slot machines and is doing better than areas without them."

The debate, which was sponsored by the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, also featured Oxford's town manager, Michael Cummings, who explained why residents in the Oxford Hills need this kind of economic shot in the arm.

"The biggest concern we have, obviously in Oxford and the Oxford Hills, is jobs, we've lost thousands of jobs through manufacturing that has closed down," said Cummings.  "There is not a lot of alternatives, there are not a lot of people knocking on the door.  I have never seen a project, a big multi-million dollar project, get knit-picked so much, I mean if we all did that looking for a spouse, we'd all be lonely."

Dan Cashman, a spokesperson for Citizens Against the Oxford Casino, says his coalition, which includes Hollywood Slots - Maine's only race track which also has slots machines, is opposed to the ballot initiative because it would not provide a level playing field for all interested parties.  The law would not allow another gambling facility to operate within 100 miles of the Oxford casino.

"I think we all know that there are some proposals coming through the pipeline now for potential facilities in Biddeford and Lewiston, and those would basically be null and void if this goes through as written," said Cashman.

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