Maine Tribe Seeks Casino Rights

The Houlton Band of Mailiseet Indians in Maine has asked the legislature to approve of a bill that would allow it to operate a casino. It has specifically asked not to put the notion to a statewide vote.

Maine’s Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians seek the right to build a casino in Aroostook County, which, if successful, would make it the third casino in the state.

The legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee is reviewing the bill.

Although there are two commercial casinos in Maine, including the Hollywood Slots in Bangor and the Oxford Casino, no tribe has so far succeeded in obtaining the right to build one. That’s not for lacking of trying.

In 2003 the voters defeated an effort by the Passamaquoddy tribe and Penobscot Nation to build a casino in Sanford. They approved the Hollywood Casino on the same ballot. Four years later the voters also rejected a proposed racino by the Passamaquoddy in Washington County. They also lost a similar vote in 2011.

The tribe would like to tap into the tourist trade that goes between Maine and Canada on Interstate 95. It wants to avoid a statewide vote, which it fears it would lose again, and is asking the legislature to approve its request.