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(NECN: Amy Sinclair, Oxford, Maine) – Las Vegas show girls aren't exactly an everyday sight in western Maine, but that was before Black Bear Developers built a 35,000 square foot casino on Route 26 in Oxford, Maine.
Maine’s newest casino resembles a hunting lodge, but instead of game mounted on the wall, this lodge features 24/7 gaming action on the newly carpeted floor.
"We have 500 slots, 12 table games and a 110 seat restaurant," said Jack Sours, the Oxford Casino General Manager.
Black Bear Developers – the group of Maine businessmen who brought the project to voters in 2010 – hailed the new casino as an economic lifeline in an area that has been plagued by double digit unemployment.
In fact, the casino has already had an impact, after hiring 400 employees – 95 percent of whom are from Maine and grateful for the opportunities here.
"Having a big employers like this come into the area and offer health care is just huge," said Jane Hoyt, a new Oxford Casino employee.
And owners are promising many more jobs if there's as much pent-up appetite for gambling as their market surveys suggest.
In fact, the first expansion is underway, but critics say it falls short of what was originally sold to voters.
Original plans featured a Four Season resort with a four story hotel and spa, but developers counter they're not scaling back – just taking their time to assess demand.
It all depends on how many people walk through these brand new doors – and how much money they leave on the table.