Maine Legislation Passes New Tribal Casino Bill
LD 554 that includes the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot tribes, was adopted by both chambers on Thursday. They also approved preliminary clearance for electronic tethering of online sportsbooks to one of Maine’s two casinos or one of its off-track betting parlors. The bill is still being debated in both chambers.
On Thursday, the Maine Legislature gave preliminary consent to a bill that would allow four Maine tribes to establish casinos on tribal territories. The chambers also passed legislation that would allow present casinos and off-track betting parlors to offer sports betting.
The bill was approved after Rep. Rena Newell, a representative of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and a non-voting member of the Legislature, delivered an early morning floor statement. She asked her colleagues to press forward with the bill.
Maine tribes have tried and have not succeeded in gaining voter or legislative approval to operate casinos on numerous occasions. Despite rejecting tribal casino proposals, Maine voters approved two distinct referendum issues that resulted in the establishment of the Hollywood Casino in Bangor and the Oxford Casino in western Maine. Penn National in Bangor and in Churchill are both owned by prominent enterprises.
Lawmakers who spoke out against the bill, L.D. 554, on Thursday, expressed concern that restoring tribal gambling rights would allow tribes to buy land in the state’s metropolitan areas and open casinos in the area. The bill would effectively alter the 1980 land claims settlement to allow tribes to run gaming operations under federal law.
Sen. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, the co-chair of the Legislature’s gambling committee, made another push to enact a sports betting measure. Last year, Gov. Janet Mills vetoed a bill championed by Luchini, claiming she didn’t believe Mainers wanted to broaden gaming.
A physical facility would be taxed at 10% of total sports betting proceeds under the proposal approved by the Senate on Thursday. In contrast, mobile licensees would be taxed at 16 percent, the same rate as Luchini’s initial measure.
Others on the gambling committee voted in favor of a different bill version, while Senator Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, voted against it entirely.