In the Cards

Local owners flipping Maine casino open since June

Less than a year after it opened, Maine’s Oxford Casino is being sold at a very nice profit. Casino and racetrack owner Churchill Downs is reportedly paying $160 million for the casino on Route 26 in the rural western Maine town of Oxford.

When I toured the supermarket-sized gambling hall just before it opened in June 2012, the local developers said their initial investment was $52 million. The casino began with a little more than 500 slot machines and a dozen table games, and has since expanded its gambling offerings.

Even before it opened, casino opponents were arguing that Maine voters were hoodwinked into narrowly supporting the casino in a 2010 referendum. The developers, opponents said, promised during the campaign to build a “four season” resort with a hotel and fancy services to draw overnight visitors. But the hotel and amenities were not included in the early phases of the development and have not been built.

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After the sale was announced, opponents began howling again that Mainers had again been deceived. The developers narrowly won their vote after stressing their local roots, but now have agreed to sell to an out-of-state interest.

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