AUGUSTA — A tribal representative for the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians is asking the Maine Legislature to back his proposed bill that could lead to a casino for his tribe in Aroostook County.

The legislation, as offered by Henry John Bear, the band’s nonvoting representative to the Maine House of Representatives, would also require voter approval in Aroostook County.

Under the measure, the proposed casino would be on tribal land in Houlton and would be limited to 350 slot machines.

“A recent gaming expansion study has confirmed that there is an opportunity to increase the gaming industry here in northern Maine,” Bear said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

Bear said the casino, “would bring in both out-of-state and out-of-country money which would benefit Maine’s northern and Down East economies.”

Bear said his measure has many co-sponsors from the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the Legislature.

Maine’s two existing casinos, Hollywood Casino in Bangor and Oxford Casino, contributed more than $51 million in state tax revenue in 2014, according to data from the state’s Gambling Control Board.

But the total spent by gamblers at both facilities was down by $25 million, according to data released in March by the control board.

Hollywood Casino returned $413 million in winnings to slots players, paid roughly $22 million in taxes and kept $24.6 million in 2014. 

Oxford Casino returned $604.6 million, paid roughly $29 million in taxes and kept $29 million.

Under Bear’s proposal, the casino proposed for Aroostook County would be required to distribute 35 percent of its net slot machine income and 16 percent of its table game income to more than 12 towns in Washington and Aroostook counties, all of Maine’s Indian tribes, county government and toward a scholarship fund.

Bear said, based on the recent study, a northern Maine casino could make as much as $200 million per year in gross annual profits. The tribes and the local communities earmarked as beneficiaries under his bill would see profits of about $18 million, based on a casino with 250 slot machines. Bear’s bill allows for 350.

The bill is the first for this lawmaking session to propose an expansion of gambling in Maine.

Even with a large number of lawmakers supporting his bill, Bear’s proposal faces an uphill struggle at the Legislature where lawmakers in 2014 rejected six gambling expansion bills.

Lawmakers in opposition have said without a statewide policy on gambling, they can’t see picking winners and losers at the Legislature.

Maine’s two casinos were approved by voters in statewide ballot measures.

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has said he doesn’t see expanding casino gambling as economic development. LePage has said that voters statewide should have the final say on any expansion of gambling in Maine.

Bear’s bill will be scheduled for a public hearing before the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee in the weeks ahead.

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