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Australian Mayor Offers View on Maine Casinos

24 June 2002

AUGUSTA, MAine – As reported by the — An Australian mayor visiting Augusta said Sunday that government revenues from casinos in his city have increased 30-fold since 1992, the first year the operations were legalized.

"Most of the players are residents with low- to moderate-paying jobs, and local regulatory input in the state-run gaming industry had been almost nonexistent until recently, said Mayor Christopher Hazelmin of Shepparton. He was the weekend guest of City Manager Bill Bridgeo.

"In recent months, casino-style gambling has been proposed in southern Maine, generating mostly unfavorable reactions from residents in those communities. Candidates in this fall's gubernatorial race also have expressed concerns about allowing that form of legalized gambling in the state.

"Shepparton, with about 60,000 residents, is in the southeastern state of Victoria, which has a population of about 5 million. About 3 million of those people live in the metropolitan area of Melbourne, the state capital, about 100 miles away.

"…The state Parliament in 1992 approved the installation of gambling machines throughout Victoria, and the government's portion of revenues now account for nearly 30 percent of the state's annual budget.

"Players keep 89 percent of all money spent and the remaining 11 percent is distributed, in one-third shares each, to the state government, the machines' various owners and the establishments where they are located.

"During the first year the machines were used in Shepparton, 11 percent of all money spent on gambling equaled about $900,000, said Hazelmin. By 2001, that 11 percent had grown to $27 million…"

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