AUGUSTA (AP) – Maine’s Gambling Control Board has voted to keep automatic teller machines off the gambling floor at a proposed casino at Bangor’s Bass Park harness racing track.

Current rules say cash machines must be at least 25 feet from the nearest slot machine, but board members voted Thursday to keep them off the floor entirely. Chairman George McHale said the second option adopted by the board “seemed to be the standard” in the United States.

The board’s ATM discussion came almost a month after the Legislature’s Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee killed a bill that would have kept machines at least 500 feet from slots.

Penn National Gaming plans to open a facility that will have 1,500 slot machines at Bass Park in 2006, pending final licensing by the state.

The proposal to keep ATMs 500 feet from slot machines drew little support and considerable opposition during a Feb. 14 public hearing. Among the opponents were the Gambling Control Board and the state Public Safety Department.

The issue was revisited at the request of Gambling Control Board member Peter Danton, a Saco businessman and former state senator.

Danton said he hoped for a compromise between the 500-foot minimim and 25 feet in the current rules. Danton said he would have opted for 50 feet or 75 feet from the nearest slot machine.

“I’m a firm believer that if the (cash) machines are too close, they will be too inviting for people to put their card in and take out cash,” said Danton.

Dixfield businessman Michael Peters, also on the gambling board, said he had no problem with increasing the distance between ATMs and slots, but added, “I don’t want to put (ATMs) outside the facility.”

Peters’ suggestion that the rules be amended to allow cash machines in the facility, but off the gaming floor, was approved in a unanimous vote. The change will be made when the board makes rules later this year.

Dennis Bailey of the antigambling group Casinos NO!, who attended Thursday’s meeting, after the vote praised the board for taking up the ATM issue anew.

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