What do you do if you’ve had your proposals for a casino and racetrack turned down for two decades? If you are the Passamaquoddy Indian Tribe from Maine then the motto is ‘if at first you don’t succeed…try and try again.” The tribe’s elected representative Madonna Soctomah submitted the latest in a long line of bills earlier this year, and the tribe has high hopes that this time could be the right time for the people of the Passamaquoddy.
The tribe’s latest venture comes at a time when the state has put all gambling bills on hold whilst it forms a new gaming commission, whose job it will be to review the gambling ecology of the Maine area. The commission will consist of 20-members and includes representation from the tribe. The commission are also tasked to create a competitive, and fair, bidding process for all future casino and slot licenses.
An exception, however, has been made for the Passamaquoddy tribe who will be able to move forward with their bill in January. Joseph Socobasin, chief of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township believes the latest bill has more promise because it seeks a local referendum for Washington County voters, who have voted for casino referendums in the past. Republican Gov. Paul LePage has stated that he would gladly sign the tribe’s casino referendum when the time comes. It’s believed that if the governor puts pen to paper then the referendum would be successful when submitted to Washington County.
Speaking to Associate Press, Chief Joseph Socobasin of the Passamaquoddies said: “We’ve always seen gaming as a project that could stimulate other businesses and jobs. I don’t think it will end all of our issues here in Washington County, but it would certainly be a great start for some kind of economic development.”
Despite the lack of a tribal casino there has been casino development in Maine during the past decade. Of the eight casino applications that have been made in the past 11-years only two have been successful: Hollywood Slots of Bangor was opened in 2005 and in 2010 a casino opened in Oxford. The tribe did a feasibility study back in 2007 and believe most of their customers would come from across the Canadian border. There is a Passamaquoddy population in Canada, but the Canadian government don’t recognize them as a first nation.
“Today nearly two million cars drive through Calais every year and they have nothing to stop for,” said Socobasin, “ This would give them a reason to stop.”