Maine Casino Backers Behind Failed 2017 Bid May Have Record Fine Reduced
Posted on: August 29, 2018, 04:30h.
Last updated on: August 29, 2018, 04:35h.
The proponents behind an unsuccessful casino bid which drew the attention of the ethics commissioners in Maine are likely to get off much easier than originally thought.
The Maine Ethics Commission (MEC) announced this week that a proposed settlement would see a $500,000 fine against the casino backers reduced to just $100,000.
In 2017, a campaign called “Progress for Maine” spent $8.4 million in a crusade to win voter approval for a new casino in York country. The campaign was a failure, but it didn’t fail to catch the attention of the ethics board, nor the State Governor, who accused the casino group of “high jacking democracy.”
The Ethics Commission handed out the biggest fine in its history as a result, slapping the casino backers with a half-million-dollar penalty.
But it turns out the casino group likely won’t have to pay nearly that much.
Battling the Bill Collectors
The MEC has apparently decided that something is better than nothing.
The four groups behind the casino bid are owned by Shawn Scott and his sister Lisa, and they’re are all based offshore in the Cayman Islands and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Since the siblings don’t appear to have any assets whatsoever in the US, the MEC has come to the realization that it would be “extremely challenging” to collect the $500,000.
“Under the circumstances, it would not be a good use of public resources to pursue a collection action that is so unlikely to succeed,” MEC executive director John Wayne told Bangor Daily News.
The casino groups actually sued the commission late last year in an attempt to reverse the record fine, which was 10 times bigger than anything the MEC had previously levied. Now it appears the two parties have come to an agreement which will have them pay a $100,000 penalty instead.
Board members are expected to vote on the settlement sometime this week.
History’s Biggest “No”
The casino group threw out accusations of bias in regards to the fine, but you can hardly blame voters in Maine for holding a grudge against Shawn and Lisa Scott.
Shawn first earned notoriety in the state when he ran a successful 2003 campaign to convince voters to approve a casino at a horse track he owned in Bangor. However, he quickly turned around and sold the rights to Penn National for $51 million and promptly left town.
So when he returned last year and proposed that he should be allowed to build yet another casino in the state, voters sent a very clear message that they wouldn’t be fooled again.
Despite the millions of dollars the Scotts spent in an attempt to sway voters, the proposal was overwhelmingly defeated. Some 83 percent of voters opposed the plan, making it the largest margin of defeat in the state’s history.