Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Casino Referendum In Maine Rejected; Slot Machines Approved In Maryland

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Updated 3 with Colorado results

Four states held referendums on significant gaming issues yesterday: Maine, Maryland, Ohio and Colorado. Voters in a fifth state, West Virginia, approved a measure that will add slot machines to an existing facility while voters in a sixth state - Missouri - voted to increase the limit that amount gamblers are permitted to lose.

The big winner for gaming companies was Maryland. Voters in Maryland approved yesterday 15,000 slot machines to be spread among five gaming venues while voters turned down plans for a slot parlor in western Maine. Ohio voters rejected a plan that would have resulted in a $600 million casino there.

The referendum in Maine would have allowed for a non-Indian casino but it was rejected by voters yesterday. After tallying about three-quarters of the votes in yesterday's election, 54 percent were against the Maine casino measure.

If approved, the referendum would have allowed for a $184 million casino complex with 1,500 slot machines and a 300-room hotel. The referendum also would have lowered the gambling age to 19 and put a 10-year moratorium on other gaming businesses. Backers of the proposed casino said they will try another referendum but will eliminate the part about reducing the age limit of customers.

Two Indian tribes in Maine, the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy, have lost various referenda in the past to build casinos and slot parlors but, in 2003, voters approved a measure that allowed Penn National Gaming to open a slot parlor in Bangor, Maine.

Voters approved a Colorado's referendum, which will expand gambling in three towns - Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek - by raising the table game stakes from $5 to $100 a hand, add new games such as craps and roulette, and allow facilities to remain open 24 hours daily. The new law will take effect in July, 2009.

Another referendum - in a sixth state - in Missouri, voters repealed a law that limited gamblers losses to a mazimum of $500 every two hours. The safety net was put into place to help protect compulsive gamblers and required the monitoring of gamblers’ play that restricted the buy-in of slot machine credits and table game chips to $500 every two hours.

Note: All votes have not yet been counted on the above issues and in the various states and the interim results are subject to change upon the final tally of votes.