A recent bill proposed in Maine by a Portland lawmaker could pave the way for Tribes within the state to pursue casino gambling, according to a local report in the Portland Press Herald. The bill addresses a long-term debate in Maine regarding the fate of the state’s Indigenous peoples.
State Representative Ben Collings has proposed LD1944, a Tribal gaming bill that would “require the state to negotiate for a casino license with a federally recognized tribe or any combination of tribes in Maine that wish to own and operate a casino on tribal lands.”
Collings authored the bill as “a placeholder intended to keep a Tribal gambling proposal in the wings, ready to go, after state lawmakers act on a Tribal sovereignty bill expected to come out in the next few weeks,” according to the local report.
Collings explained to the Press Herald his reasons for keeping Tribal gaming in the forefront of conversation among lawmakers.
He said, “Every session, I put in a Tribal gaming bill, and it’s up to the Tribes to decide what to do with it.
“Gaming could be very positive for the Tribes and the surrounding area and go a long way toward fixing things for Maine Tribes, but sovereignty is the number one priority. Sovereignty first.”
This is not the first time that Collings has introduced a Tribal gaming bill in Maine. His previous bill passed by a vote of 97 to 40 in the House and by a vote of 22 to 13, gaining bipartisan support. However, the bill did not gain the two-thirds majority needed to override Governor Janet Mills’ veto.