BRUNSWICK (AP) – Angus King makes no secret that he opposes casino gambling, but while passing through Nevada with his family he couldn’t resist a side trip to Las Vegas to take in The Strip.

“If anything, my opinion about casinos has solidified. It’s an absolutely lousy idea for Maine,” the former governor said.

A referendum question that would allow two Maine Indian tribes to develop a casino in Sanford will appear on the state’s November ballot.

The idea that opening a casino in Brunswick would lead to more business for the Starfish Grill, for example, is just crazy, King maintained. Casinos often sell meals at lower prices than neighboring restaurants or offer free food to patrons, a practice that would yield no benefit to the local economy, he said.

King, his wife Mary Herman, son Ben, 12, and daughter Molly, 9, were headed to Hoover Dam in their recreational vehicle. But when they spotted a road sign saying Las Vegas was 26 miles away, they couldn’t resist.

“If there is a world capitol of neon, this is it,” the former governor said on his Web site,

After driving along The Strip with its giant casinos and drive-through wedding chapels, the family parked at the Luxor and obtained cancellation tickets for the late show of The Blue Man Group.

After that, they walked through several casinos, where the children played arcade games while the parents watched the action at the gambling tables.

“After a while it gets a little depressing, but for sheer spectacle, this is the place,” he said.

King and his wife didn’t gamble. “We may be the first people to spend an entire evening in Vegas without losing a dime,” he said.

The family has already logged about 8,000 miles on their RV journey, which has taken them through the South, Southwest and California.

King said they hope to return to Maine by the first or second week in June, enabling the children to attend the last week of school. They have been home-schooled during the trip.

King has grown a beard on his travels and his son has asked visitors to his Web page to vote on whether the beard should be shaved off or kept.

The latest tally: “Lose,” 29 votes; “Keep,” 19.

AP-ES-04-21-03 1355EDT

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