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Maine Lawmakers Could Be Warming Up towards Tribal Casino Venues Construction

Tribal casino venues are a tempting offer for many gaming enthusiasts and Indian tribes such as the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians have been seeking amendments done to the way gambling rights are obtained in Maine. Following months of battle, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court might be well on its way to make a change and allow the tribe the freedom to introduce gambling facility to its tribal trust land in the state without additional hassle.

A considerable freedom could be given to the tribe with the help of an expected ruling of the top court. It has the potential to make the entire process of casino venue operation permission much easier for both the authorities and the Native American tribe. The very last days of August saw Maine’s House put the question to voting and giving its nod with some 70-54 in favor of the previously proposed order.

Representative Henry John Bear, acting on behalf of the Indian tribe, is willing to make a change and battle a case dating back to 1987. Upcoming weeks could see warming up to the idea of tribal casino venues in the state and a long-awaited green light for tribal gaming.

Prolonged Legal Battles Seek Change

The said legal dispute between California and Cabazon Band of Mission Indians is what has affected the tribal reservation casino offerings across the states and what has led to the current status quo in Maine. Rep. Bear sought to allow the four tribes sprinkled thorough Maine to construct their own tribal integrated resorts and casino venues without the mandatory approval of the state.

With the help of this change in the current legislation, tribes would be able to seek the approval of the House of Representatives solely, thus facilitating the entire process. At the moment, this could be achieved only by the introduction of a referendum on a state level or through the obtaining of an approval by the Legislature. It should be taken into account that this has rarely happened in the past, as visible by the multiple failed attempts at tribal gaming permit obtaining.

The introduction of a tribal gaming venue to the state could boost the local economy and bring fresh revenue to the state coffers. Rep. Bear weighs the possibility of tribal gaming in Maine especially since other states give their local tribes the freedom of such operation. This move could lead to commercial casino developers also seeking an amendment to the existing law, obliging them to obtain the permission of state voters before building gambling facilities.

Hope for Change Still Exists

This spring witnessed yet another failure for the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians that saw their proposal for casino venue operation being nixed. The Maine House of Representatives held a vote which proved that the majority of lawmakers are against the idea. The vote saw 73-67 against the prposed project which is going to provide many of the tribe members with a steady job place and considerable income.

However, this is not the first attempt at achieving this goal, since Senator Benjamin Collings (D-Portland) managed to file in a Legislative Document 1201 back in 2017. The lawmaker was striving to provide tribes with the permission to oversee facilities with up to 1,500 slot machines in operation, but as it turns out the upper chamber does not share his enthusiasm and roadblock was hit.

The Native American tribe of Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians is federally recognized ever since 1980 and has its lands located in the vicinity of Meduxnekeag River flowing through the state of Maine. Headquarters of the tribe are situated in Houlton providing it with an easy access.

The tribe has been willing to give a start to its own tribal gambling facility and oversee its operation on a land belonging to the tribe for quite some time now. Tribes in the region do not have the same rights as their fellow tribes in other states when it comes to conducting gaming activities and the way they obtain gamign permits.

The reason behind this discrepancy is because of the existing Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act according to which the land belonging to tribes is governed by the state regulations. As a result, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act applicable throughout the states is not considered valid in Maine. Voters also seem to be reluctant to see any new casino venues within the borders of the state, regardless of their particular type. Through the proposed order Maine’s gambling field could see significant changes.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.