AUGUSTA (AP) – Gamblers would be allowed to play slot machines until 4 a.m. every day and ATMs would have to be at least 25 feet away from the machines under rules proposed Thursday by a state board.

The Governor’s Gambling Control Advisory Council, which is developing regulations for slot machines at Bangor Raceway, agreed the facility could operate from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. daily, except on Sunday when it would open at noon. The facility would be closed on Christmas and Easter.

Council members could not come to a consensus on advertising standards for the facility, known as a “racino.” But they agreed to pursue advertising guidelines that do not encourage gambling by minors or offer guarantees of winning.

The panel cannot make rules until it becomes an official state board next month. But faced with a Sept. 30 deadline to license a racino operator and approve regulations, members are trying to reach consensus on as many issues as possible.

The council’s five-hour meeting Thursday was the latest in a series of meetings and workshops it has scheduled to make the September deadline.

“Progress is our most important product,” said council Chairman George McHale.

After reviewing regulations on ATM locations in other gambling states, McHale said a 25-foot buffer zone separating ATMs from slot machines seemed reasonable.

“(That way) somebody couldn’t stand at a machine, put their card in here, take their money out and put it in there.” he said.

“They would at least have to leave the machine, lose their place at the machine and walk to the ATM to get some more money.”

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Cantara said members of the Maine Senate had voiced similar concerns over players “emptying their accounts” and plunging deeper into gambling addiction and financial recklessness if the ATMs were located too close to the playing area.

The council agreed that the building that would house the slot machines should follow existing state law and prohibit smoking.

Members plan to ask the Legislature to rewrite state law so a racino would be treated like an off-track betting parlor, where people can smoke in designated areas.

AP-ES-07-16-04 0217EDT



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