Maine Tribes Want Slots - Tuesday 12th of April 2005

Maine's two largest Indian tribes, hoping to boost ailing revenue streams, have submitted separate bills that would allow them to operate slot machines on or near their respective reservations. The bills, proposed by representatives of the Penobscot Indian Nation and Passamaquoddy Tribe, come about a year after voters soundly rejected the tribes' plan for a $650 million resort casino in southern Maine.

"Penobscot Chief James Sappier on Wednesday told lawmakers he believed the 2003 rejection had little to do with voters' disdain for slots, particularly since, on that same ballot, they approved them for use at a harness racing track in Bangor.

"???Penobscot officials said any profits from the machines would be used to fuel the tribe's struggling economy, which has been hard hit recently by a decline in revenue from its bingo and timber harvesting operations.

"???Wednesday's public hearing on the Penobscot bill also drew opponents from the Christian Civic League of Maine and the anti-gambling group Casinos No!, which led the 2003 campaign against the tribes' southern Maine casino.

"???Passamaquoddy Tribe, which would share the money with the Penobscot Nation and Maine's other two recognized tribes, the Aroostook Band of Micmac and the Houlton Band of Maliseet. The rest of the revenue would go to the state, racing purses, various college scholarships and other funds set up under current law.

"Maine's tribes have faced an uphill battle when it comes to casino gambling. Unlike other federally recognized tribes elsewhere in the country, Maine's are not covered by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which requires states to negotiate gaming compacts in good faith with tribes???"

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