As president of the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association, I would like to comment on your recent editorial, “Commission fails when ignoring casino question.”.

While I understand your concern about the quick action of some members of the commission, there are considerable time restraints on reporting out a recommendation. Our group has no intention of circumventing the questions posed in your editorial, however, it seems prudent to move the dialogue on to another level.

Much information has been prepared, presented and is available. We believe discussion about a written proposal is preferable to a multitude of “what if” situations. Let’s not rush to judgment until a final product has been reviewed and decided upon.

Understandably, Penn National and Churchill Downs oppose any new competition within Maine. This position, however, seems quite shortsighted for the remainder of the state. Given the certain migration of Southern Maine and tourist dollars to Massachusetts and, inevitably, New Hampshire, wouldn’t it be wise to consider what a Southern Maine destination racino (adjacent to a race track) would mean to keeping those revenues in-state?

Each year, there is considerable talk about bringing new businesses into Maine. The equine industry (including veterinarians, farmers and suppliers) and its 5,700 jobs is a $360 million economic boost to Maine’s economy. In addition to courting out-of-state interests, perhaps it’s time to focus more on supporting existing Maine industries rather than those elusive “people from away.”

The success of this approach can be seen in each state where it has been implemented. Maine would do well to follow the lead of Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware and Ohio. The success of their programs has been a boon to horse racing.

Simply put, the racing industry only wants the opportunity to compete fairly with other forms of gambling.

Timothy Powers, DVMPittsfield

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