Maine tribe analyses steps to operate casino

The tribe is considering its options after the state’s top court declines a gaming question last week.

US.- The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians is considering all of its options in order to host a casino in Houlton, Maine. The tribe has been waiting several years to bring a casino to the area, but last week the state Supreme Court decided not to take a stand on tribal gaming’s constitutionality.

Clarissa Sabattis, tribal chief, said earlier this week that the tribe would no longer send a representative to the Maine Legislature in Augusta. This comes after the Supreme Court issued an opinion on a question propounded by the House of Representatives regarding the status of tribal gaming and the permission to conduct such activities without permission from the state. The court determined that the question is not “a serious and immediate nature.”

Tribal Rep. Henry Bear of the Houlton Band of Maliseets said in response to the opinion by the justices of the court that efforts to gain local, state support for their legitimate, but modest, tribal economic development plans were never legally required under current international, treaty, federal or state law.

“In the past six years the Tribe has lost a projected US$100 million in net tribal casino revenues and a hundred, much-needed jobs as a result of this ongoing, jurisdictional situation,” Bear said, according to The County. “Based on an increased awareness of the tribe’s circumstances and the state’s dubious legal position, there was majority support for the question propounded to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and there remains strong support among Maine legislators for the idea of a tribal casino in our Aroostook region,” he said. “Going forward there is expected to still be tribal gaming efforts even without our presence in the Maine Legislature.

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