Postcard Perfect? The Hollywood Casino Bangor is one of two non-Indian casinos in Maine. Photo: Timothy Valentine
Legislation

Lawmakers in Maine still don't want to help tribes with gaming efforts

Maine is staying in the dark ages when it comes to Indian gaming.

But it's not for religious or cultural reasons, as the state is home to two non-Indian casinos. Thirty years after the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribes are instead stuck with high-stakes bingo.

In hopes of addressing the situation, State Rep. Henry John Bear, who is a citizen of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, introduced a bill that would ask the Maine Supreme Judicial to determine whether tribes can exercise their inherent authority and engage in gaming.

“We need jobs. We want to pay our own way,” Bear said during debate on his bill, known as House Order 58, The Bangor Daily News reported. “That’s the simple response to the question to us of ‘why do you want to do it? Why do you want gaming?’”

But a majority of Bear's colleagues didn't want to find out the answer. They voted down his bill on Monday.

Similarly, a different tribal gaming bill is all but dead in the State Senate, the paper reported.


According to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, tribes possess the inherent authority to legalize and regulate gaming on their own lands. A year after the decision, Congress enacted IGRA to provide a national framework for dealing with casinos in Indian Country.

But most tribes in Maine aren't able to follow the law due to restrictions in their land claim settlements. Attempts to address the issue on the state level have failed repeatedly, even as voters approved the non-Indian facilities.

Read More on the Story:
Maine House blocks another tribal casino bid (The Bangor Daily News April 9, 2018)

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Maine lawmaker seeks court ruling to help tribes with casino plans (February 20, 2018)
Voters in Maine easily reject bid for new commercial casino after tribes objected (November 8, 2017)
Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation oppose bid for new Maine casino (November 3, 2017)
Aroostook Band of Micmacs backs ballot referendum for new casino in Maine (October 13, 2017)
Houlton Band upset with failure of yet another tribal casino bill (June 25, 2015)