Local legislators were divided on a bill that would allow a casino with up to 1,500 slot machines to open in Oxford County.

Voters will have the final say, however, since supporters of the casino proposal collected sufficient signatures to send the measure to the November ballot as a voter-initiated referendum.

The Senate voted 26-8 on April 5 to kill LD 1808. The House had voted 83-59 on April 2 to kill the legislation.

The Legislature’s Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee had recommended that LD 1808 be defeated.

State Sen. Christopher Rector, R-Thomaston, said he is opposed to casinos, but defeat of the legislation simply means the measure will go to voters.

“Casinos are not economic development,” Rector said. “Unfortunately, they demonstrate the failure of economic opportunities.”

Current state law allows up to 1,500 slot machines in Maine. The bill would expand that to 3,000 but limit any casino to 1,500 machines. The proposal would allow a casino in Oxford County with the approval of the municipality where it would be located. Under the bill, 46 percent of net income from the slot machines would go to the state, with 16 percent of net money from games of chance going to the state.

Voting to kill the bill in the Senate were the three local state senators — Republicans Rector, A. David Trahan of Waldoboro and Carol Weston of Montville.

In the House, voting to defeat the bill were Reps. Edward Mazurek, D-Rockland; Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston; Joan Welsh, D-Rockport; Maine House Speaker Hannah Pingree, D-North Haven; Andrew O’Brien, D-Lincolnville; Elizabeth Miller, D-Somerville; Jonathan McKane, R-Newcastle; Veronica Magnan, D-Stockton Springs; John Piotti, D-Unity; and Michael Thibodeau, R-Winterport.

Welsh said her overall position on gambling was negative.

“I lived in Nevada for many years and I do not think this is what would be good for Maine, despite the need for jobs and economic development,” Welsh said.

Voting to keep the bill alive were Reps. Wes Richardson, R-Warren; Wendy Pieh, D-Bremen; and Jayne Crosby-Giles, R-Belfast.

If the Legislature had approved the bill and the governor had signed it, the law would have taken effect. Gov. John Baldacci has expressed opposition to new gambling proposals in Maine.

There had been efforts in the Legislature to add a competing measure on the ballot to allow for a casino in Washington County to be operated by the Passamaquoddy Tribe and to allow for table games at Hollywood Slots in Bangor. Those efforts failed.