On Wednesday, Governor Janet Mills of a state sitting in the New England region of the United States vetoed a bill on a claim it is flawed. Barely two weeks earlier, the State of Maine’s legislature voted to approve a bill that would allow federally recognized tribes to offer gambling on their sovereign properties. While these tribes continue to provide gambling services, they are limited to some extent.
That’s why the Maine legislature crafted a bill and passed it in Augusta, giving these tribes similar rights as most tribes in other states. The bill was sent to Governor Mills, only for her to veto it.
The Democrat governor wrote to the legislature explaining her decision. She said she had worked to ensure there was a good relationship between the state and tribes. She added that despite the improving relationship, she could not sign the bill into law as it was.
What’s In the Bill?
The language used to outline the bill is limited. For example, it does not describe where tribes could offer gaming. Another thing not included in the bill is the description of the size of each gaming facility.
This means the legislation has no outlined steps to take when authorizing a gaming facility. Thus, some gaming platforms could be large while others small. Moreover, a casino can decide to offer a few slot machines in a convenience store.
The governor feels this kind of legislation would disadvantage one gambling facility over the other. Moreover, non-tribal societies would have no power over their placement.
With a lack of predictability on the legislation, the governor termed the bill flawed. The legislature for the state bordering New Hampshire to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast will have to amend the bill before the governor can sign it.
Current Deal for Tribes in Maine
The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows federally recognized tribes to provide Class II games without seeking approval from Maine. These games include poker, bingo, and other non-banked card games.
In 1980, the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act enabled three tribes to get their land back. These include Maliseet, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy. Besides land restoration, the act also specified that federal Indian law did not apply to these tribes unless the law focuses on Maine.
With IGRA not mentioning Maine, it means federal Indian law does not apply to these tribes. The other tribe, Aroostook, was recognized in 1991, which is three years after IGRA. This has brought about questions about the sovereignty of each tribe.
Accusation of Racism
There are two commercial casinos in Maine. These include the Hollywood Casino Bangor and Oxford Casino.
In 2003, Maine residents voted to authorize slot machines in Bangor and against tribal gaming. The tribes cited racial discrimination. Following the governor’s decision on Wednesday, Peter-Paul of Aroostook said the governor ignored evident support shown in the legislature.
The Aroostook Chief said that tribes are asking for their rights on their native lands. According to him, the community, legislature understand the tribes are asking for their rights. He added that the governor and large corporations did not understand the tribe’s plights.
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