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Maine tribes could offer online sports betting under proposal

Maine State House
Robert F. Bukaty
A pedestrian walks by the Maine State House, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Augusta, Maine.

The Mills administration is proposing major changes to taxation and gambling laws as part of a push to reform state and tribal relations. The proposals come as tribal leaders seek to overhaul a law that puts them on unequal footing with the more than federally recognized tribes across the U.S.

After two years of on-again, off-again discussions, state lawmakers will resume consideration of a major rewrite of the controversial 1980 agreement between Maine state government and tribal nations. The bill has the support of the four Wabanaki tribes in Maine — the Penobscot Nation, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Aroostook Band of Micmacs and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians — as well as nearly 100 organizations.

The Mills administration has strongly opposed parts of the bill. But in an Op-Ed published in the Bangor Daily News last week, the governor's chief legal counsel said the administration is working on a plan that would allow tribes to offer online sports gambling. Mills had vetoed a sports betting bill two years ago. Additionally, Jerry Reid wrote that the administration is proposing income and sales tax relief to the tribes and members who live in Indian territory.

The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the bill, L.D. 1626, on Tuesday morning.