OXFORD — The Oxford County Fair has eliminated its long tradition of harness racing from this fall’s schedule because it’s a losing proposition, Oxford County Agricultural Society director Henry Jackson said.

He said the sport was losing $10,000 to $18,000 per year. Costs included operations and hiring track officials, he said.

The Bangor Raceway is picking up several of the days so the drivers will lose only a day or two from their normal racing schedule this summer.

The fair will run Wednesday to Saturday, Sept. 12-15.

A decision on whether the track will be torn up had not been made, Jackson said.

A citizen initiative approved by voters in 2009 allowed for Oxford Casino to be licensed by the state if the operator owned a harness-racing facility that was active that year, was licensed by the Maine Harness Racing Commission and was within 10 miles of the casino.

The only facility that met the requirements was the Oxford County Fairgrounds, which has conducted harness racing under a state license since 2003.

In September 2017, attorneys for the society and Oxford Casino asked the state Gambling Control Board whether active harness racing at the Oxford track was necessary for licensing the casino.

“The short answer is no,” said Milton Champion, executive director of the Gambling Control Unit of the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Assistant Attorney General Ron Guay told the board that licensing the fairgrounds track by the Maine Harness Racing Commission would not be a precondition for licensing the gambling facility on Route 26.

Ten live racing license renewals for 2018 were approved by the Maine Harness Racing Commission in November 2017, including the Farmington Fair, Fryeburg Fair, six other county fairs and Bangor Raceway and Scarborough Downs. Oxford County Fair did not apply for a license renewal.

The Maine Harness Racing Commission did not respond to requests for comment.

Leslie H. Dixon can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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