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Maine casino chooses Silverton Casino as partner

Updated Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 | 5:11 p.m.

OXFORD, Maine -- A Las Vegas casino and hotel operator has been chosen to operate a casino under construction in western Maine.

Black Bear Development announced Tuesday it has reached an agreement with Silverton Casino to operate Black Bear's casino in Oxford. The Oxford Casino is scheduled to open next spring.

Silverton Casino will be in charge of determining things such as the mix of slot machines and table games, the surveillance system and even the restaurant menu, said Black Bear spokesman Scott Smith. Silverton also will be in charge of hiring executives and managers to fill key positions at the facility, he said.

Black Bear chose Silverton not only for its know-how but also for the way it markets its Las Vegas property as a lodge, which has a stone facade and is adjacent to a Bass Pro Shops flagship store, Smith said.

"They bring a consistent look, feel and brand that lines up with Black Bear's goal and vision of a Maine lodge," Smith said. "So there's a real symmetry between the companies."

Maine voters narrowly approved the Oxford casino in a statewide referendum last November. It is the first casino in Maine approved for table games such as black jack and craps in addition to slot machines.

The Silverton Casino is several miles from the Las Vegas Strip and has 90,000 square feet of gambling space with 2,000 slot machines and 30 table games. It also has a 300-room hotel, several restaurants and 11,000 square feet of conference, concert and special event space.

The property is owned by Edward Roski, a California real estate developer and co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball team and the Los Angeles Kings NHL hockey team. Forbes magazine lists Roski as the 170th richest American, worth an estimated $2.1 billion.

"As the only casino in Las Vegas that was designed to replicate the look and feel of a true New England lodge, we believe that our Silverton team is uniquely positioned to make this exciting Maine project a resounding success," Silverton Casino President Craig Cavileer said in a statement.

Dennis Bailey, head of the CasinosNo! anti-casino group, said he'd like to know the financial terms of the deal and whether any profits will go to Silverton.

"No casino from Las Vegas is going to come in without taking a substantial bite of the apple," Bailey said. "That means most of the money spent there by Maine people will be heading out of state and won't be benefiting the local economy."

Smith said Silverton doesn't have any ownership stake in the casino.

"They are consultants, and the Maine owners are fully involved in the project," he said.

Hollywood Slots in Bangor, which has slot machines but no table games, is the only casino now operating in Maine.

Maine voters will vote on two ballot questions in the Nov. 8 election asking if they want to allow two racinos in Biddeford and Washington County in eastern Maine and a casino in Lewiston.

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