A spokeswoman for Las Vegas developer Shawn Scott denied Tuesday a published report that he has sold the company trying to install slot machines at Bangor Raceway.
The sale – lacking only a signed agreement – signals that Scott “has vacated his attempt to develop Bangor into a racino,” according to the Monday report on TimeSite.com, the Internet publication of the harness racing industry magazine Times in Harness.
Scott’s spokeswoman, Christen Graham, denied the report, dismissing it as rumor designed to derail the Bangor project and raise questions about Scott’s dedication to the industry on the eve of votes in Saco and Westbrook, where Scarborough Downs has proposed competing projects.
“There’s enough people trying to undermine Shawn Scott’s good work in Bangor,” said Graham, who called the report rife with speculation. “Bangor has not been sold. We’re working too hard to keep it.”
Rumors of a pending sale of Bangor Historic Track Inc. have circulated through the racing industry since Scott appeared before the Maine Harness Racing Commission earlier this month in hopes of obtaining permission to race horses and operate slots at the city-owned raceway.
Voters approved introducing slot machines to the state’s two harness racing tracks in a statewide vote in November. The new law still required local approval and appropriate state licenses.
The commission is set to resume Scott’s licensing hearing on Jan. 8.
Despite denials of a sale by Graham, TimeSite.com officials on Tuesday stood by their story, which was based on “a knowledgeable source close to the proposed sale.”
“Let’s put it this way, when the licensing hearing resumes on January 8, Shawn Scott won’t be there,” said Stan Gutkowski, the story’s writer, who attributed Scott’s reported willingness to sell, in part, to doubts about his ability to secure the needed license.
David Nealley, a city councilor who is heading the Bangor project for Scott’s company, also denied reports of a sale.
“There’s no signed deal, but I wouldn’t be surprised if [Scott] considered an offer considering how difficult the state has made this,” Nealley said, referencing staunch opposition from the administration of Gov. John Baldacci.
The governor has made no secret of his dislike for the Bangor project and his wishes to tighten the regulations governing slot machines in the state before the new law takes effect in February.
But even many of the law’s harshest critics – bending to the will of the voters – acknowledge that someone will operate slots at least in the Bangor facility sometime in the near future.
Since Scott signed a deal with the city to open a slot parlor at the raceway, several competitors have emerged in the event the racing commission denied a license to Scott, who earlier this month was denied a similar license in New York.
Should Scott decide to sell Bangor Historic Track, his deal with the city would be easily transferable to another owner, according to city officials.
On the shortlist of potential replacements has been Kehl Management Co., an Iowa-based gaming company that also has a pending application before the commission to operate the Bangor track.
On Tuesday, an attorney representing Kehl Management denied any pending deal with Scott.