Indian tribes set to show strong support for gaming bills


BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — State lawmakers will be considering two bills this week that could expand slot gaming to two indian tribes in Maine.

For years the Passamaquoddy tribe has faced rejection from voters in getting a racino built in Washington County. The tribe is now going to try again. Meanwhile the Maliseet indians in Aroostook County say they want to open their own casino.

The state Senate is set to consider the twobills. The Passamaquoddies have said they hope to have better luck getting their racino passed this time around. They want to accomplish that goal by having a narrower electorate.

If theracino bill were to pass only Washington County voters would have to decide on the project and in the past those voters have clearly supported it.

Back in the fall of2011 the Passmaquoddies failed in their attempts to get the racino as 54 percent of voters statewide said they didn’t want it. Yet how Washington County voted in that electionwas a much different story. 66 percent of county voters favored a racino for the tribe and 34 percent said ‘no.’

Meanwhile the Houlton band of the Maliseet indians are also looking to get a gaming facility passed through. They want the legislature to allow them to open a casino with 750 slots on land the tribe owns off of I-95. Their bill also asks that no state referendum take place on the project.

Leaders of the Maliseets say if approvedfor construction, their casino could have a big impact.

“With our cascade and the distribution we will be helping the entire county..not just the town of Houlton,” saidBrenda Commander, who is the chief of the Houlton Maliseets,”more importantly it will provide economic development for business and the surrounding area.”

The state Senate tabled discussion of the two bills at least until Thursday. As expected both tribes said they were lobbyinglawmakerson Tuesdayto pass it.

Hollywood Casino in Bangor has spoken out against the bills. Officials there say from their perspective any more gaming facilities in Maine would only spread business furtherand not add to the state’s economy.