Tuesday, April 27, 2015
Augusta – Rep. Karen Vachon of Scarborough is introducing legislation she hopes will help to preserve Maine’s rich harness racing tradition. LD 1213 An Act To Ensure Fair Competition by and between Maine’s Commercial Tracks would eliminate the deadline for local approval for the operation of slot machines or a casino at a commercial track in Maine. Among other things, the bill would also provide a commercial track greater latitude in relocating to a municipality that supports the track and harness racing as long as the track does not relocate closer to any existing casino or slot machine facility.
“Bolstered by gaming revenue, harness racing is a conduit to Maine tourism. We’re talking jobs, prosperity, and Maine pride,” Rep. Vachon said. “This bill is about bringing Maine harness racing out of the dark ages and allowing Maine’s 65 year- old track – Scarborough Downs – to fairly complete in Maine and in the US.”
Rep. Vachon knows there are a lot of potential stakeholders when it comes to harness racing in Maine and remains open to any suggestions that could potentially better this piece of legislation.
“I am open to crafting any bill language that permits a fair and competitive bidding process to bring a Southern Maine Racing Resort and Casino to Maine,” said Rep. Vachon. “I would like to see a bill that creates a competitive bidding process to attract the most number of bids with defined criteria that will include preserving the harness racing industry, preserving open space and Maine farms, and creating the most jobs.”
The bill will be unveiled at a public hearing today in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee.