New casino makes its mark locally
Since the Oxford Casino opened earlier this month, Bethel-area residents have been making the 45-minute trip to Oxford to try their hand at the slot machines and game tables. And at least one local business expects to benefit.
Gary Coyne, owner of the Stagecoach Shuttle Service of Bryant Pond, had two groups booked this past week for the round trip to Oxford.
“They are people who have used me in the past in the winter,” he said last week. “(Second home owners) from Mt. Abram, and a group from one of the developments at Sunday River.”
He hopes the shuttle business from this area to Oxford will pick up more now that summer is here and tourists will be traveling to the area.
He’s also looking forward to trips this winter, perhaps on days when the skiing weather isn’t ideal and people are looking for an indoor activity.
“I think it’s going to bring some local business. It’s created jobs,” he said.
Coyne said he’s heard comments around town from local residents who have recently driven down themselves and tried their luck in Oxford. “They said, ‘We had to go check it out,’” he said.
Among locals who have checked it out is Norm Milliard of Bethel.
He said that while the establishment is small compared to those in other states, “the staff I dealt with were very courteous and the layout seemed quite organized.”
Milliard also said he saw some familiar faces. “There were actually quite a number of employees working that I knew, so that is positive that the casino is hiring local folks.”
He said he would go again.
Loretta Powers of Newry went recently with her daughter, and she said they would also return.
“It was smaller than I thought, but they do have plenty of room to grow,” she said. “We didn’t play any of the game tables, just the slot machines.”
She has previously been to the casino in Bangor.
For a Bethel woman who asked that her name not be used, the Black Bear was her first experience at a casino.
“They had to show me how to use the slot machines,” she said. “I had never been – I didn’t know anything about it.”
But she learned quickly, spending a little over two hours playing the nickel slots. She won $38, and lost a net $10.
She said she saw others from the Bethel area. She said plans to go again, and drive herself so she can come and go on her own schedule.
“It’s cheap entertainment,” she said. “I go for the enjoyment. It’s foolish to really affect your budget with it. I know my limit.”