Maine Lawmakers to Renew Push for Tribal Gambling Expansion

Maine’s federally recognized tribes have had the opportunity to offer online sports betting since the state launched its legal market in November of last year. This milestone was made possible after state lawmakers legalized online sports betting in May 2022. Now, a new report from the Portland Press Herald suggests that efforts to expand gambling options for Maine residents are likely to resume.

Several bills have been introduced that call for the expansion of gambling activities, which may gain traction during the second regular session. These bills not only aim to expand gambling but also seek to enhance tribal sovereignty across Maine, support tribal and rural communities, and aid in the economic development of the tribes. Additionally, the proposals intend to raise more funds for various public services.

One of the bills, LD 1777, backed by Rep. Laura Supica and co-sponsored by House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross and Senate President Troy Jackson, calls for the expansion of gambling to allow tribes to offer online gambling in addition to sports betting. This bill also seeks to allow tribes to offer games of “skill or chance offered through the Internet in which an individual wagers money or something of monetary value for the opportunity to win money or something of monetary value.” According to Supica, the bill would have a positive economic impact on the tribes and help in the development of different communities.

Two other proposals, supported by Rep. Ben Collings, may also gain traction during the second regular session. LD 1944 proposes the development of casinos by one or more tribes on tribal lands, while LD 1992 proposes federally recognized tribes to operate historical horse racing terminals, electronic beano terminals, casinos, and venues with slot machines.

Despite the potential benefits of additional funds, not everyone agrees with the expansion of gambling in Maine. One prominent opponent of the expansion of gambling across the state is Gov. Janet Mills. In the past, the Governor vetoed a bill pushed forward by Collings that proposed tribes be able to operate casinos. Despite Mills’ firm stance on gambling, in 2022, she approved a proposal granting tribes the exclusive rights to offer online sports wagering. If the bills are reviewed during the second regular session, they may face opposition from Mills.