Maine's Tribal Internet Gambling Expansion on the Horizon
Maine's Tribal Internet Gambling Expansion on the Horizon
Wild Casino

Maine Lawmakers Mull Over Granting Broader Internet Gambling Rights to Tribes

In the pine-scented wilderness of Maine, a new chapter in internet gambling is being written. After two months of successful operations by federally recognized tribes in the domain of online sports betting, the state lawmakers are now contemplating proposals to expand tribal rights to cover all forms of internet gambling. This expansion includes casinos, electronic beano, and harness racing.

Public Hearings and Political Resistance

Public hearings on these proposals are on the docket as the state legislature reconvenes. The bills, left hanging from the previous session, are poised to be met with opposition from Governor Janet Mills. Having a historical stance against gambling expansions, Governor Mills surprised many by assenting to a bill in 2022. This bill accorded tribes the exclusive right to online sports betting.

Enhancing Tribal Sovereignty: A Larger Endeavor

The proposed changes are part of a broader initiative to bolster tribal sovereignty in Maine. Currently, tribes are treated akin to municipalities, a consequence of the 1980 Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act. Governor Mills has previously vetoed broad sovereignty rights, favoring limited amendments to the 1980 agreement.

Proposals on the Table

Representative Laura Supica has tabled a bill, L.D. 1777, endorsed by the Democratic leadership. This bill seeks to allow tribes to expand their internet gambling operations and revamp how state online gambling revenue is used. Steve Silver, the chairman of the Maine Gambling Control Board, however, voices his criticism of the bill’s exclusivity for tribes. He also expresses concern about its potential impact on existing gambling revenues.

Another bill introduced by Representative Ben Collings proposes the establishment of a tribal casino. A separate bill advocates for enabling electronic beano and historical horse racing terminals for tribes and other facilities.

Online Sports Betting: A Successful Inception

Since the inception of online sports betting, Mainers have placed wagers amounting to nearly $76 million. The state has collected approximately $887,000 in tax revenue.