PORTLAND (AP) – The anti-gambling strategist who helped shoot down a proposed southern Maine casino in 2003 now finds himself battling casinos on both coasts.

Dennis Bailey, a Portland-based public relations operative, was hired this month by opponents of a plan backed by Donald Trump and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to build three casinos in the Bay State.

Bailey also signed on to help a group of residents of Lynden, Wash., along the Canadian border, launch an anti-casino campaign. He said about 70 members of the group, which calls itself the “Freedom Players,” were escorted froom the Nooksack Northwood Casino on Saturday after a demonstration he helped organize.

Bailey, 54, has been fighting casino proposals since 2000, when slot machines were proposed for Scarborough Downs. He said his strong feelings about casinos evolved over time as he learned more about their negative impacts, particularly on the poor.

“I feel it’s a fraud and a scam. The government has the right to say, ‘No, this is something you can’t do,’ ” he told the Maine Sunday Telegram.

“I’m passionate about it. If I were doing this for the money, I would be on the other side. That’s where the money is.”

Rep. Donna Loring, who represents the Penobscot Nation in the Legislature, disagrees. She suggested that Bailey is an opportunist motivated only by money.

“I think he’s just sort of happened upon a job that pays very well. It’s sort of like a modern-day Indian fighter,” she said.

Bailey maintained that his anti-casino efforts don’t generate that much income for his firm, Savvy Inc., and that most of its business is focused on giving media relations advice to corporate and nonprofit clients.

In 2006, Bailey helped a Rhode Island anti-casino group torpedo a ballot measure that would have allowed the Narragansett tribe to build a $1 billion casino.

Bailey’s work defeating the Maine casino proposed by the state’s two largest Indian tribes is now being used by every anti-casino group in the country, said Richard Young, president of Casino Free Mass.

The Boston Herald last week ran a cartoon portraying Bailey and his twin brother Doug, who owns a Boston public relations firm, as “the casino killers.” Doug Bailey serves as a campaign coordinator for Casino Free Mass. The two brothers both worked for newspapers before going into public relations.

Some wonder whether Dennis Bailey is getting too much credit for the Maine campaign and that he was merely the public face of an effort that involved many others.

“For me, he’s had the good fortune of having really good people around him that are willing to give him a lot of credit,” said Roy Lenardson, who worked on the campaign. “It was really a dream team. It wasn’t a Dennis thing. I don’t know if Dennis can re-create that in other states.”

Bailey’s fans, though, say he has played an instrumental role in keeping Indian casinos out of Maine.

“He is one of the most intuitively intelligent people I have ever known,” said former Gov. Angus King, for whom Bailey had worked as press secretary. “He can size up a situation instantly and has a real knack for how to re-position it and help people understand it and put the response in terms that are easy to grasp.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.