An opposition group calls the effort an attempt

to buy a victory.

PORTLAND (AP) – Supporters of a proposed $650 million Indian casino in southern Maine have expanded their advertising campaign in advance of a November state referendum on the issue.

The pro-casino group called Think About It took out full-page ads in several newspapers this week and began airing spots on about a half-dozen radio stations. The group also relaunched television ads that were introduced last spring.

In addition, paid and volunteer campaign workers have been handing out information door-to-door.

Proponents did not say how much they were spending in their latest efforts. But Las Vegas casino developer Marnell Corrao, who is backing the project, has said in the past it’s prepared to spend whatever it takes on Maine’s casino campaign.

The opposition group Casinos No! criticized the ads as an attempt to buy the election. Spokesman Dennis Bailey said the newspaper ads were an attack on opponents and signaled that pro-casino forces are in trouble.

Erin Lehane, Think About It spokeswoman, said polling after the group’s first round of television spots showed the proponents had a comfortable lead and a recent poll by a Maine television station showed the pro-casino side was up 10 points.

Lehane said advertisements in the Maine Sunday Telegram will run every other week and have already sparked positive responses.

She said she did not know how much the campaign has budgeted for advertising and where it will be spent in the weeks leading up to the statewide vote.

As of last month, casino proponents had received nearly $1.7 million worth of in-kind donations since the beginning of the campaign last year, with Marnell Corrao paying for the lion’s share and no money coming from donors.

Lehane said the campaign is entirely self-funded and does not accept donations.

Casinos No!, which had raised about $625,000 since last year, hopes to have enough money to launch its own television advertising campaign.

Bailey said the group will never be able to match the money being spent by proponents.

and is depending on grass roots efforts, such as the planned distribution of 800,000 anti-casino fliers at fairs in Maine this fall.

AP-ES-08-13-03 0216EDT

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