Happy 10th Birthday, Oxford Casino! Thanks For Being Awesome

Written By Darren Cooper on June 27, 2022 - Last Updated on June 29, 2022
How Oxford Casino has given back to Maine

The Oxford Casino in Southern Maine celebrated its 10th birthday earlier this month. After a controversial start, Maine’s second casino has found its footing and become a pillar to the local community.

Oxford is a town of 4,229 according to the 2020 census and is not too close to any metropolitan area. But the casino turns the small winter skiing enclave into a destination and a place where businesses have blossomed.

There are two commercial casinos in Maine, the state’s first is the Hollywood Casino in Bangor.

The early days of Oxford Casino

Maine residents approved a casino in Oxford in one of the closest votes in the state’s history. The final margin of 4,601 was verified by a recount back in 2010.

Backers of the project gave the boilerplate reasons why Oxford needed a casino. They promised economic development and jobs for the local community. And an anchor location to serve as a meeting point for area residents.

One of those metrics is easy to prove positively. At the time, unemployment in the area was 10 percent. State figures now show unemployment in Oxford County below 5%.

The original name for the casino was the Black Bear Four Season Resort and Casino which opened on Jun. 5, 2012. It was sold to Churchill Downs Inc. for a reported $160 million 13 months later.

Churchill Downs, yes, the same people who own Kentucky’s famous racetrack. They didn’t take long to expand the casino, opening an on-site 107-room hotel in November of 2017. And adding more slot machines and table games.

With the expansion came additional jobs and more business opportunities for the area community. Oxford Selectman Floyd Thayer said in a report on the casino’s 10th anniversary by WGME 13:

“The finished product is probably better than what I envisioned. You’re always skeptical of something like that, but you know a lot more good has come out of it than bad.”

A Maine place

Right off of Route 26, the Oxford Casino is near the New Hampshire border. It sits about 40 miles north of Portland. 17 miles from Lewiston, an hour from Augusta, and a good two-hour ride from Boston.

Oxford bills itself as having 27,000 square feet of gaming space with:

  • Just under 1,000 slot machines
  • 409 different games
  • Video poker machines
  • A pair of restaurants: the Ox Pub and Oxford Express

General Manager Matt Gallagher touts the local workforce of over 400 people including over 100 who have been working there since the first day.

Oxford Casino revenue helps the state in many ways

State revenue from the Oxford Casino totals $319.2 million. That revenue has flowed back to residents of Maine separated across 13 different government programs.

The biggest chunk of those proceeds has gone to education programs in Maine: $175.4 million.

Next on the list is $25.8 million for tribal government administrations and programs. And $24.8 million went to the University of Maine scholarship fund.

Over $23 million has gone toward gambling addiction recovery and awareness programs in Maine. And over $19 million has been funneled to the Maine Community College Scholarship program.

The town of Oxford gets 2% of the revenue collected by the state. And so it has seen $15.7 million flow into its balance sheets in the last 10 years. That money entices new businesses and improves existing infrastructure. Oxford County has received $7.8 million.

Photo by Sean Locke/Shutterstock
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