FREDERICTON, New Brunswick (AP) – New Brunswick’s government has issued a request for proposals for a casino to be in operation somewhere in the province by 2010.

In doing so, Maine’s neighboring province is wagering that a casino will revive its faltering tourism industry, which has seen the number of visitors decline by 25 per cent over the past five years.

A plan to expand gaming across the border in eastern Maine was rejected earlier this week.

Supporters of a proposed harness racetrack-casino in Calais sought to make the eastern Maine city a destination for tourists largely from Canada. But the proposal, which called for doubling the number of slot machines allowed in Maine to 3,000, was rejected Tuesday in a statewide referendum. Maine already has a racino in Bangor.

The facility envisioned in New Brunswick won’t be funded or operated by the government, but Finance Minister Victor Boudreau said he expects the province will pocket about $25 million per year in revenue.

The government’s new responsible gaming policy will cut the number of video-lottery terminal sites by 50 percent, and the actual number of machines by 25 per cent by April 2009. They’ll be removed from restaurants, while Royal Canadian Legion branches will be able to keep theirs.

Legislation will be introduced to regulate charitable gaming activities, including the licensing of Texas hold ’em poker tournaments.

Peter McKenna, a political studies professor at the University of Prince Edward Island, said New Brunswick should have learned a lesson from PEI. He said a racino in Charlottetown is losing about $5 million per year and is doing virtually nothing to assist the harness racing industry.

McKenna, who has written a book on the gaming industry in Atlantic Canada, also said governments are ignoring huge social costs inflicted by gambling.

Issues of crime and gambling addiction were raised during the Maine racino referendum campaign.

AP-ES-11-08-07 1445EST

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