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Maine Tribal Gaming

Tribal high-stakes bingo is legal in Maine.

In June 2005, the state legislature voted 21-11 to allow a statewide referendum on a proposed tribal racino in Washington County. The referendum was blocked when Gov. John Baldacci vetoed the bill. In January 2007, supporters of the proposed tribal racino were able to gather the 50,000 signatures needed to place the measure before the legislature.

In March 2007, the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee endorsed the proposal to allow the Passamaquoddy Tribe to run a racino with 1,500 slot machines in Washington County. The tribe faced opposition from the anti-gambling group Casinos No! and the governor. In May 2007, the legislature passed the bill, but it was vetoed by Gov. John Baldacci. The legislature was unable to override the veto. As a result, the issue was automatically placed on the statewide ballot during the referendum in November 2007. The proposal was rejected by the voters.

In March 2008, the Maine House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to a bill (LD 701) that would allow a Maine Indian tribe to operate up to 400 slot machines if it had a license to run high-stakes bingo games. The original bill identified the Penobscot Nation as the prospective tribe, but a legislative committee changed the wording in the bill to read an unspecified "federally recognized Indian Tribe." In April 2008, an amendment to the bill was made by Rep. Dick Blanchard (D - Old Town) to decrease the number of machines to 100 and only operate them when bingo is in session. In April 2008, after being passed by both the House and Senate, the bill was vetoed by Gov. Baldacci and could not get the two-thirds vote needed to override the veto.

The Penobscot Nation planned to install electronic pull-tabs at its bingo hall in fall 2010. The move was blocked by the Attorney General, who argued that electronic pull-tabs are not legal because the machines not only dispense the tickets but also determine the outcome of the game.

In June 2015, the Maine House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow Indian tribes to open a casino in Aroostook or Washington counties. The bill was never taken up by the Senate.

In March 2019, multiple representatives from Oxford County testified against LD 1144, “An Act to Authorize Tribal Gaming,” during a public hearing at the State House in Augusta. The bill would allow Native American tribes to operate a casino in southern Maine. Oxford County commissioners are opposed to a bill that would allow Native American tribes to build a casino 50 miles from the ones in Oxford and Bangor.

In April 2019, lawmakers discussed a bill to allow the four federally recognized tribes in the state to jointly open a casino that would include slots and table games. The state would receive 25% of the slot income, which would go towards K-12 education while 16% of table game income would go toward a general fund.
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