Referendum questions in Maine are an interesting facet of political life. Among other things, some of these questions ask voters to change our way of life. The interesting part is that they rarely get resolved until the group promoting the change gets the answer they want.
How many times in the past years have questions been asked that were defeated by voters only to reappear in an election or two after seeking passage once again. The real question is, "When does 'No' mean "No?" When it comes to making cultural or environmental changes, the answer is easy: "Never."
In our town, Scarborough, we've faced the question of allowing a combination casino and harness racing track, what we used to call a "Racino," at least two other times, three if you count the double question in 2008. Each time the majority of us voting said, "No!" As expected, the margin of that vote decreased the second time around.
There's a good chance we're going to have to vote again on the question. Officials at Scarborough Downs, the long-time horse racing track in Scarborough, say they need the approval to compete for gamblers now playing in Oxford and Bangor.
The Maine House of Representatives voted last week to allow the question to once again go before the voters and the Maine Senate is expected to concur probably sometime this week. Earlier this year the Scarborough Town Council voted to change a zoning restriction if the voters approve Scarborough Downs to add slot machines. We've seen in the other two gambling facilities in Maine that once Slots were approved, other types of gambling are quickly added. That would probably be the case at Scarborough Downs, too.
I don't gamble. Yes, I've said it before, my first job not given me by family as a teenager was at Scarborough Downs. Technically, I was called a veterinarian's assistant working for the state racing commission. I collected urine samples from winning horses for testing. But I didn't gamble there, partially, at least, because I was a minor, even though I learned of some tricks on how outcomes could possibly be affected.
My wife Sandra and I have been to Las Vegas twice, but we didn't gamble. Well, that's not totally true. We did split one roll of quarters for the slot machines. We just wrote them off as entertainment expenses as we stopped playing when that one roll was gone. Naturally, it was always gone soon into the session. I've driven through Atlantic City and past Oxford. But we don't go in to even see the insides.
I learned early that gambling devices are rigged to be sure the "house" comes out as the winner. Even when someone gets a decent payoff, the winner will always still be the house. So I don't gamble on machines or horses, or in any other type of games of chance. As I said, the "chance" I'll win is a lot smaller than the House's. Oh, I don't play the lottery, either.
Allowing another casino is just another loss for our culture and a change of a way of life in Scarborough. I voted "No" each of the preceding ballots and have seen absolutely no evidence I was wrong. I will be consistent when we go to the polls for another vote. However, as I think I said during the last attempts to bring casino gaming to our Town, The proponents will keep the votes coming until they wear us down. I'm afraid enough have been worn down already.