January 21, 2020
VOTE 2002

Southern Mainers reject casinos Voters nix gambling in Dexter survey

ELIOT – Voters in six York County towns sent a clear message Tuesday about how they feel about casinos: No thanks.

Meanwhile, residents in Dexter, more than 100 miles north, also made it clear to town officials Tuesday that they weren’t interested either.

Voters in Kittery, Eliot, Kennebunk, North Berwick, Ogunquit and Wells said they either did not want casino gambling in their towns, near their towns or in the state at all.

The votes were held in response to a proposal that has been floated for the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Indian tribes to build a Foxwoods-style casino resort in southern Maine.

Because casino gambling is illegal in Maine, the tribes need permission from the Legislature before starting.

Tom Tureen, a lawyer and advocate for the tribes, said the tribes will continue to pursue plans to build a $400 million to $600 million casino in southern Maine, but not in the towns that voted to ban casino gambling within their borders.

“We made no efforts in those towns. We think they acted prematurely, but that was their prerogative,” Tureen said.

Town officials in Dexter, who are investigating every economic development opportunity, developed a questionnaire that was presented to residents as they visited the polls Tuesday seeking their opinions on the operation of a casino in that community.

Had there been considerable interest expressed by residents for a casino, town officials had planned to place a nonbinding referendum question on the ballot for the general election in November.

However, the overwhelming majority of the 318 Dexter residents who filled out the questionnaire showed no interest for a nonbinding vote or any further action on the matter, Town Manager Robert Simpson said Wednesday. He said the Town Council would discuss the results of the questionnaire at Thursday’s council meeting.

Meanwhile, voters in southern Maine made it clear Tuesday that they don’t want a casino.

Seventy-five percent of voters in Wells and 76 percent of voters in Kittery said they wanted their towns to ban casino gambling.

In Eliot, 85 percent of voters turned down a referendum question asking if they wanted casino gambling in town.

In Ogunquit, 83 percent of the 200 voters said they did not want a casino anywhere in southern Maine. Seventy-one percent of 2,846 voters in Kennebunk opposed having a casino in their town.

And in North Berwick, 72 percent of voters opposed casino gambling in southern Maine and 60 percent opposed it in the state as a whole.

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