PORTLAND (AP) – Advocates of a proposed casino received nearly $1.5 million in contributions during the latest three-month reporting cycle, or more than three times the amount raised by the project’s foes, the groups announced Tuesday.

The pro-casino group Think About It reported in-kind contributions worth $1.48 million, virtually all of it from Las Vegas developer Marnell Corrao. Casinos No!, meanwhile, informed the state’s ethics commission that it raised $490,000 between April 1 and July 5.

The two groups are locked in a political battle over a Nov. 4 statewide referendum on whether the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes should be allowed to build a $650 million dollar casino and resort in Sanford.

Dennis Bailey, spokesman for Casinos No!, said he is not discouraged by the wide discrepancy in finances.

“I’m not surprised by that at all. I thought it was going to be higher, frankly,” he said. “We’re never going to be able to meet them dollar for dollar, but we’re smarter.”

Casinos No! reported a $100,000 contribution from credit card giant MBNA, $50,000 from L.L. Bean and $35,000 from Tom’s of Maine in the latest reporting cycle.

Contributions came from 34 businesses, 285 individuals and the town of Kennebunkport, the anti-casino group reported, and more than 90 percent of them were from Maine residents.

Casinos No! has raised a total of $625,000 so far in 2003 and has about $400,000 remaining, Bailey said.

More than 90 percent of the pro-casino group’s contributions came from the firm that would develop the Sanford casino, according to Erin Lehane, spokeswoman for Think About It.

The remaining contributions came from lawyer Tom Tureen, who paid Lehane’s salary and also covered some administrative costs, she said. Tureen is spearheading the pro-casino campaign.

Lehane said most of the money raised was used for advertising, including several TV spots, and for other political organizing.

In the last reporting cycle, Think About It received $241,000 in contributions, most of it from Marnell Corrao.

The state ethics commission requires quarterly fund-raising statements from political action committees.

The Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes have optioned 300 acres near the Sanford airport but need voter approval to move forward with the project.

On the Net:

Maine Campaign Finance Public Access Site: http://www.mainecampaignfinance.com/public/home.asp

AP-ES-07-15-03 1852EDT

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