The Maine Legislature is being asked to back a proposal from a representative of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. The non-voting rep in the Maine House of Representatives, Henry John Bear, is asking for the approval of a casino to be built and will also be seeking voter approval in the county of Aroostook. The proposed casino would be located on tribal land and would offer 350 slot machines.
Based on recent studies, there is a great opportunity for the increase of the gaming industry in northern Maine. The proposed casino would increase incoming money from out of the state and even out of the country, which would only benefit the different economies and communities in the area.
In 2014, the two existing casinos in Maine – the Oxford Casino and Hollywood Casino, provided over $51 million in tax revenue for the state. This amount was generated despite the total amount spent at the facilities being down by about $25 million from 2013.
In 2014, Hollywood Casino offered $413 million in payouts to gamblers playing slots and paid $22 million in taxes, keeping a profit of $24.6 million. At Oxford, $604 million was returned in payouts and $29 million was paid in taxes, resulting in the casino keeping $29 million.
The proposal offers the chance for a scholarship fund to exist as Bear hopes that the proposed casino would have the ability to distribute 35% of income derived from slots and 16% of the income from table games to different towns in Aroostook and Washington counties as well as Indian tribes in Maine.
Bear cites a study and states that a casino in northern Maine could generate $200 million a year in profits. The tribes and local communities would see as much as $18 million in profits. This number is based on a casino that houses 250 slot machines, whereas Bear’s proposed casino would offer 350 machines.
This is the first bill of the 2015 session regarding casino expansion in Maine and with many supporters, there is still a long road ahead. In 2014, there were 6 gambling expansion bills that were rejected. Some do not see casino expansion as a form of economic development. The bill will be presented at a public hearing in the coming weeks.