PORTLAND — Maine voters have rejected two ballot questions for a casino in Lewiston and two racetracks with slot machines in southern and eastern Maine.

With 66 percent of precincts reporting, Question 2 on Tuesday’s ballot proposing racinos in Biddeford and Calais was failing with 57 percent of the vote opposed in unofficial returns. Question 3 calling for a casino in Lewiston was opposed by 64 percent of voters.

Backers said the projects would create hundreds of jobs.

The eastern Maine racino would have been operated by the Passamaquoddy Indians, who said it would give a much-needed lift to the region’s ailing economy.

Opponents argued that casinos are a drain on local economies while contributing to societal problems.
Maine now has one racino, Hollywood Slots in Bangor, and a casino under construction in Oxford slated to open late next spring.

In Lewiston, 74-year-old Gene Tardif said he voted in favor of both proposals. Casinos, he said, would boost the economy and create jobs.

“I want casinos everywhere,” he said. “Why not?”

Retiree Ron Tanguay, 62, of Lewiston, voted against both casino questions, saying he doubted casinos would produce as many jobs as promised. He also worried they would suck hard-earned dollars out of people’s wallets. “There are enough poor people around who don’t need any more problems,” he said.

For Question 2 on the ballot, Ocean Properties LLC, a Portsmouth, N.H., hotel and resort company, teamed up with the owner of Scarborough Downs racetrack in proposing to build a $120 million development with a racetrack, slot machines, hotel and small entertainment complex called Biddeford Downs. It would be built near the Maine Turnpike in Biddeford. Backers said the project would employ 800 construction workers and more than 500 full-time employees once it opened.

The referendum also would allow the Passamaquoddy Tribe to operate a racetrack with slot machines in eastern Maine. Tribal leaders haven’t developed a specific plan, but said the development would be in or near Calais, along the Canadian border.


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