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Maine poll shows
casino losing on Nov. 4

Oct 21, 2003 4:36 AM

A recent survey of likely voters in Maine had both good news and bad news for Las ­­Vegas gaming entrepreneurs.

The good news was for Shawn Scott who hopes Maine voters will approve a referendum on Nov. 4 that will permit two harness racetracks to install slot machines. Scott has an option with the city of Bangor to acquire and convert Bangor Raceway into a racino. The other track, Scarborough Downs in Portland, is privately owned. No conversion plans have yet been announced.

The bad news was for the casino developer Marnell Corrao, whose partners Tony Marnell and Jay Barrett have an agreement with the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Indian tribes to build a $650 million casino and resort in Sanford.

According to the poll conducted by Strategic Marketing Services, the majority of voters surveyed have turned against the casino idea, reversing earlier polling figures. In the poll conducted during the first week of October, 50% of those surveyed said they would vote "no" or are leaning toward a negative vote. Almost 43% said they supported a casino while the rest were undecided.

As for the track slot machine issue, 54% said they supported the proposal while 41% said they were opposed. Another 5% were undecided.

The results of the voter survey regarding the Indian casino were surprising since all earlier polls showed public support for the project. Opponents said that their internal polls had also indicated that the tide was turning against the casino.

Also the opponents noted that voters in the southern part of the state where the casino would be located were strongly opposed. The poll said that in both York and Cumberland counties in southern Maine, 36% supported a casino while 58% were opposed.