Not in my backyard!

Hollywood Slots Casino, Bangor, Maine

When we talked about Foxwoods Resort in class, the first thing that popped into my mind was the new Hollywood Slots Casino that recently opened in Bangor, Maine – the state’s only casino. Penn National Gaming owns this casino, which makes it slightly different from Foxwoods, as its owner is a gaming company and not a Native American tribe.

That is not for lack of trying, however. In both 2003 and 2007, the Passamaquoddy Tribe living in Indian Township, Maine, sought approval for a tribal casino. Maine voters rejected it. Now, on May 5, 2010, the Passamaquoddy Tribe stated that a new proposal from Black Bear Entertainment  for a casino resort in Oxford County (Western Maine) is restrictive and “allows for the monopolization of future gaming in Maine.” [1] If this proposal goes through, this means that neither of the two casinos in Maine will be owned by an Indian Tribe. Is that fair?

The state of Maine is attempting to rejuvenate itself by bringing in new business and younger people. Voters allowed the Hollywood Slots Casino because it promised to bring new jobs and revive a dying industry in Maine, harness racing. However, new reports say that it has done neither. In fact, as the Hollywood Slots complex bought up motels and restaurants, they put more people out of work. CasinosNo!, an organization working against casinos in Maine, reports that the unemployment rate has remained the same (8%) and crime is up. [2] The only thing that has gone down is retail sales, as most people just go to Bangor for the casino. As we will be talking about getting by in America in our next class, I thought this was an appropriate segue.

The twist in this case is that although Mainers are essentially against any casinos in their state, there are several bus lines that run two or three times daily down to Foxwoods, from Bangor, Portland, and Portsmouth, NH. We love casinos, but not when they’re in Maine? The one casino is okay, but only because we want to help the economy? But not support a tribal casino? What is the message we’re trying to send?

[1] Bangor Daily News, 5 May 2010. <http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/142710.html&gt;.

[2] CasinosNo! “One Year Later, Hollywood Slots Fails to Deliver on Its Many Promises.” <http://www.casinosno.org/info.php?info_id=53&gt;.

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