Fewer people are playing the ponies: Off-track and racetrack wagers in Maine were down again in 2013.

The figures were released Wednesday, the same day the Maine House gave initial approval to a new twist on Scarborough Downs’ effort to win a racino in the Legislature: It would have to build a hotel, an entertainment complex and a new track before it could turn on one slot machine.

Michael Sweeney, the track’s announcer, said Scarborough Downs was fine with those terms, as well as new language in LD 1111 that would peg the licensing fee at at least $50 million.

“It makes the case this is a more thought-out plan than some of the ones we’ve had in the past,” said Sweeney, making an indirect reference to Oxford Casino, which showed artists’ renderings of a four-season resort complex before voters approved it in a referendum two years ago.

Oxford has so far only built a gaming parlor and restaurant, though another company recently started construction of a hotel across the street.

Figures from the Maine State Harness Racing Commission presented to the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee by Executive Director Henry Jackson show both of Maine’s commercial racetracks, Scarborough Downs and Bangor Historic Track, operating at a loss last year.

For the complete story, visit Sun Journal at www.sunjournal.com/news/maine/0001/11/30/bets-are-down-stakes-are-scarborough-downs-agrees-build-hotel-complex-first-if-state-approves-new-casino/1#