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State House Sustains Gov. Baldacci's Penobscot Casino Slots Bill

On April 16th, 2008, Gov. John Baldacci used his authority to veto the slot machines bill that would give permission to the Penobscot Indian Nation to offer slot machines at their casino facility. Gov. Baldacci said that the proposal was not approved by the voters and the legislators approved the governor's decision on the grounds that it has been on the decision table since last year.

The House approved Baldacci's rejection of the slots proposal in a 94-99 vote, which is less than 2/3 majority needed to dismiss the decision. The proposal would have allowed the Indian tribe to offer 100 slot machines at the reservation near old town, which is already scaled down from the four hundred slot machines planned for the original proposal.

The slots bill was carried over from the previous session last year, when the Penobscot tribe commented that their Indian Island gambling profits had taken a beating from the Hollywood Slots racino, which is located in Bangor, Maine.

The Bangor establishment, which is operated and managed by Penn National Gaming Incorporated, was passed by the state voters through a 2003 statewide vote. The Penobscot tribe commented that they needed the profits from the slot machines to fund their programs and support their budget. Profits would have been divided into different programs like for gaming addiction, education, health and others.

In his message on why he vetoed the proposal, Baldacci said that it will go against the principles that he hold and that he believes that any gambling related issue should be decided by the voters and there should be no exception made for anyone. During a house discussion on whether or not to approve the veto, some legislators commented that they agreed that gaming decisions should be given to state voters.

Just last fall, the state voters shot down a gaming proposal made by the Passamaquoddy Tribe. But other legislators said that allowing the slots proposal was an issue of fairness to the Penobscot tribe. Rep. Sheryl Briggs, a Democrat from New Mexico said that they basically do not have any right to tell the tribe that they cannot offer slot machines because they do have their own government.


06 May 2008
News Submitted by:
Lauren Desmond

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