The Maine Legislature passed a bill that would allow tribes to operate gaming businesses.
The issue of tribal gaming has been hotly contested in Maine for years. The state has no competitive process to approve casinos, so casinos in Bangor and Oxford have been approved by voters. Tribal bids have been shot down. Maine’s high court declined in 2018 to weigh in on whether tribes should be allowed to establish casinos on their land without state approval.
The bill from Rep. Benjamin Collings, D-Portland, would amend state law to allow tribes to operate gaming facilities under a federal law governing gaming for other recognized tribes in the country. An amendment proposed by the tribes would require tribes to negotiate casino revenue sharing and operations with the state.
Gaming has long been touted by tribes in the state as a way to build their economies. When Hollywood Casino opened in Bangor in 2005, it devastated the Penobscot Nation’s long-standing beano business that closed 10 years later. But Rep. Rena Newell of the Passamaquoddy Tribe called it “a small piece of the puzzle” to righting historical wrongs.