In newest gaming debate don’t forget how Maine tribes have been unfairly shut out in the past

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Maine tribes have repeatedly been blocked, by  voters and by state government, in efforts to enter the gaming industry. This continued exclusion has not been fair. So as lawmakers consider a bill that would give tribes control of a new mobile sports betting market, we view this as a potential rebalancing of a situation that has historically left them behind. 

In an attempt to build toward compromise with Maine tribes, Gov. Janet Mills and others have been working on a p roposal that would make federally recognized tribes in the state the only group eligible to get mobile sports betting licenses, which are not yet available in Maine. Representatives from Maine’s two casinos and other gaming interests have bristled at the idea, which would shut them out from mobile sports betting (but not in-person sports betting).

This amended legislation, LD 585, also deals with tribal-state collaboration and tax relief for the tribes, and is slated for another discussion by the Judiciary Committee on Thursday. It was introduced by House Assistant Majority Leader Rachel Talbot Ross and resulted from months of talks that included tribal leaders, lawmakers, the governor’s office, and attorney general. Both Talbot Ross and  tribal leaders have said it is not a substitute for the larger tribal sovereignty push that is also before the Legislature. 

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