Vegas group seeks Maine OK for casino

Sep 23, 2008 7:00 PM

by Ray Poirier | If Maine voters decide to approve the construction of a $100 million casino in the western part of the state on Election Day, Nov. 4, they’ll be looking for expert gaming experience to guide their way.

And that’s exactly what they’ll get from the Olympia Group of Las Vegas which has purchased Evergreen Mountain Enterprises and now is reinvigorating a stalled casino campaign.

Leading the charge for the Olympia Group is Dean Harrold, a seasoned veteran of the gaming wars. Harrold’s career includes a stint as president and COO of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Harrold, the vice-chairman of the Olympia Group, is attempting to have the Maine voters rethink their views of casino gambling. He asked that they shed the outdated stereotypes and instead focus on the economic benefit that will flow to the area site.

"It’s not about gaming. It’s not about resorts. That’s not what this is about. This is about jobs, this is about Maine and that’s the reason we’re here," he told a gathering last week.

The efforts of Evergreen Mountain Enterprises had stalled dramatically when its founder Seth Carey, a Rumford attorney, abandoned the campaign because of legal problems.

The last-minute arrival of the Las Vegas company injected new life in proponents’ efforts to get referendum approval.

Harrold admitted that the bill has flaws. He disagrees with a provision that would lower the minimum age for gambling from 21 to 18. He’s also against a provision to let the casino president have a seat on all of the boards and agencies that would benefit from casino revenues. However, if passed, the ballot proposal would have to be remedied by the Maine legislature.

Joining in support of the casino movement is Pat LaMarche, a former gubernatorial candidate, who has been making an impassioned plea for economic development in Oxford County. She said she agreed to rejoin the casino movement after the purchase agreement with the Olympia Group was announced.