Maine Opposition To Tribal Gaming is Prejudicial

While Connecticut waits for a legislative decision to possibly allow a commercial casino to accompany the tribal casino monopoly, Maine has just been dealt with the opposite proposal – a tribal casino to be allowed in a state of commercial gaming casinos.

According to Focusgn.com, Maine’s state legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee discussed the possibility of legalizing a bill that would allow tribes to offer casino gaming in the state. Rep. Benjamin Collings, D-Portland, said that the tribes should be able to create an economic system that would bring benefits to the tribes.

300px-Wohngebiet_MaliseetSeveral other casinos proposals have been made over the years by multiple Indian tribes, but with little success.  The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians tried to bring a casino into Aroostook County four years ago. In 2003, efforts by the Passamaquoddy tribe and Penobscot Nation to build a casino in Sanford were rejected in a statewide vote while the Hollywood Casino was approved on the same ballot. A Passamaquoddy owned and operated casino and race track facility in Washington County was also voted down in 2007. Similar efforts for another tribal racino in Washington County were also thrown out when the Maine Racino Initiative was rejected in 2011.

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Passamaquaddy Crest

In 2013, the Penobscot Indian Nation has tried to pass a bill to enhance its existing gaming operation—a 30-year-old traditional bingo enterprise that uses a bingo caller and bingo cards. And it’s the fifth year in a row its efforts have been thwarted by the state.  But Maine officials claimed that the Nation’s proposed Class II bingo machines are really Class III slot machines—a claim that’s refuted by two of the most reputable companies in the country that manufacture, test and certify gaming machines.  Class III is a designation applied only to “tribal” casinos and are Vegas-style Slot Machines used on tribal casinos such as Mohegan Sun, & Foxwoods.  They are exactly the same, Class II are tribal casino machines that work as a bingo machine and may look like a slot machine, but doesn’t act like one in paying off the player.  Check out the following links for more info on Class II & Class III.

Legal Distinction Between Class II and III Gaming Causes Innovation, Anguish

Slot Machines, VLT’s What’s the Difference? – John Grochowski Explains

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Chief Kirk Francis talks about why Penobscot Nation officials are upset by the state’s delay of license request that would allow the tribe to use Bingo machines. The state says they’re slot machines, the tribe says it’s part of Bingo operations.

So why is 2017 so different? Maine has, in the past been accused of pursuing policies that force the state’s recognized tribes into a cycle of dependence rather than fostering economic self-sufficiency. Maine currently has two commercial casinos, Oxford Casino and the Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway Bangor, while the Passamaquoddy tribe operates a high-stakes bingo parlor in Indian Township.

This bill would authorize the Department of Public Safety, Gambling Control Board to accept applications for casino licenses from the states four recognized tribes,which comprise five tribal communities: the Micmac, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot.

These licenses would permit the operation of table games and up to 1,500 slot machines at multiple facilities. It would also exempt the tribes from the state regulation that no casino may be built within 100 miles of an existing casino or slot machine facility. Twenty-five percent of net slot machine revenue and 16 percent of net table game revenue go the state general fund.

York County, Maine om the Mass & NH borders where the third Casino in Maine is proposed

York County, Maine, on the Mass & NH borders where the third Casino in Maine is proposed.

As one can imagine, Hollywood Bangor & Oxford Casino officials are not too happy.  It has another fight to the southwest of Maine – a proposed York County casino.  The Legislature is expected to put the casino question to voters in November because backers collected enough signatures to place it on the ballot. Lawmakers criticized an effort to bring a casino to York County saying the company behind the proposal has a questionable history and would be handed exclusive and lucrative rights to build the casino if voters approve.

Could Maine support all these possibilities?  Probably Not.  While it is the 39th largest state in the Union – larger than South Carolina  & W. Virginia,  and slightly smaller than Indiana – only 10 states have less residents, three of which are also in New England!  Tribals nations in the north do have the distance away from New England casinos and a close proximity to Canada.  But York County?  That’s another question that won’t be answered for a while – if it ever gets approved.

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Maine Says No to More Casinos

Timing is EverythingTiming is always such a tenuous line.  While NETG (NE Time Gambling) wanted to be “timely” on the approval news for Monday, it didn’t take long for the legislature in Maine to turn that possibility into ‘ain’t happenin’ here!

Maine State House, Augusta

Maine State House, Augusta

The Legislature’s appetite for an expansion of gambling in Maine revealed itself to be nonexistent Tuesday with the rejection of a second pro-casino bill in as many days. On Monday, the Senate put the billed approved by the house to sleep that would have allowed for a competitive bid process for a tribal-run casino in Aroostook County or Washington County.

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Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway, Bangor

At present, the state of Maine hosts two commercial casinos – Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway in the city of Bangor and Oxford Casino in the city of Oxford. (In addition, the state has one establishment of Native American type, which is owned and managed by the Penobscot Indian Nation). Opponents questioned the need for more gambling in a small state that already has two casinos. They also pointed to voters’ repeated rejection of more casinos.  Of course, among the concerns voiced by opponents of both bills was that either of them would erode business for Maine’s two existing casinos in Bangor and Oxford.

Oxford Casino, Maine

Oxford Casino, Oxford

The expansion of casinos has been under debate for years but consistently has been turned back by the Legislature, mostly because of arguments that Maine has no overall casino gaming policy that identifies what casinos should pay and where that revenue should go. Maine’s existing casinos were approved by referendum.

Since Wynn Everett seems unlikely to open before 2017, it seems Maine still needs to see what kind of influence Plainridge Park has on their existing casinos, and if gaming revenue from Oxford & Hollywood stabilizes – Hollywood has shown some weakness recently by Oxford’s competition and Oxford has seen a modest decline, although they continue to be a success in southern Maine.

That’s all for now.

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Maine Tribal Bill Passed Amidst New England Gambling Expansion

th (41)While Massachusetts and Rhode Island are ready to explode begin a New England Gambling border war, (see yesterday’s comparison of Plainridge & Twin River at  https://aubin330rta.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3669&action=edit ), Maine is quietly setting up for more gambling possibilities.  These “possibilities” are meant to help the northern Maine areas, especially those tribes living there.  The House of Representatives on Thursday endorsed a bill that would allow Maine’s Native American tribes to operate a casino in Washington County or Aroostook County. If approved by the Senate today:

  • the bill would allow a competitive bid process dependent on which proposal would create maximum economic and employment benefit for Maine’s four federally recognized Indian tribes
  • bids would be considered by a new body called the Casino Development Commission, and
  • Voters would need to approve the casino plan in a countywide referendum.Trad Attire Maliseet Tribe

Rep. Henry John Bear of the Houlton Band of Maliseets said Friday the bill has support from the tribes and a majority of lawmakers.

According to Christopher Cousins of the Bangor Daily News, “efforts by the tribes to implement and expand gaming have been turned back by the Legislature multiple times in recent years. Bear said the change of heart that could be unfolding in the Legislature likely is linked to a White Sands Gaming report which found northern Maine could support a casino.”

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Notice the Bingo Card – top, middle.

Speculated type of casino gaming would be similar to Class II gaming machines – based on a central computer as bingo wins – that appear to be Vegas style Class III machines found in Bangor and Oxford casinos.

Hollywood Casino still feels this would pose a threat to an already barely stable revenue income at this time.  I feel they may be right, being caught in middle between northern Maine and Oxford in the south.

The Senate votes today……

That’s all for now.

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