Maine’s Tribes Push for Expanded Gambling Rights
Maine’s federally recognized tribes currently hold exclusive rights to sports betting following the state’s launch of its legal betting market in November last year. Despite this, efforts continue to expand gambling in the state, with the Veteran’s and Legal Affairs Committee hearing details regarding three bills proposing the establishment and operation of casinos on tribal lands.
The Portland Press Herald announced that Rep. Ben Collings, a sponsor of one of the bills, spoke about the benefits of expanding gambling, emphasizing the need for fairness in allowing tribes to establish casinos. He highlighted the potential for much-needed funding for tribal reservations and rural communities, suggesting an end to discriminatory policies and expressing the belief that tribes should be able to run their own businesses and use the revenue as they see fit.
However, not everyone supports these proposals. Representatives of the state’s existing casinos in Hollywood and Oxford voiced concerns about the potential impact on their business, suggesting that the demand may not be sufficient for a statewide expansion of casinos. Attorney Dan Walker, representing Oxford Casino, stressed that this expansion would mark a significant step for Maine and could potentially be the biggest in the state’s history.
Chris Jackson, a representative from Hollywood Casino, echoed these concerns, highlighting the highly competitive nature of the gambling sector in Maine and the limited gaming dollars available, making competition fierce.
Despite opposition from some quarters, supporters of the tribal gambling expansion remain hopeful that the proposals will gain traction. While Gov. Janet Mills has opposed the state’s gambling expansion, she did approve a proposal in 2022 that granted the tribes exclusive rights over online sports betting, indicating a potential willingness to consider further expansion.
The debate over gambling expansion in Maine continues as the state grapples with the potential economic and social impacts of allowing tribes to operate casinos on their lands.