Houlton Casino Project is Voted Down by Maine State Senate For Second Time…Maliseets Vow They Forge Ahead
For the second time, the Maine State Senate has VOTED DOWN a series of gaming proposals….one that could have meant a casino in Houlton. FOR NOW, the idea of putting a casino on Houlton’s North Road remains on hold. Thursday, the Maine State Senate VOTED DOWN putting forth to the public the referendum for a series of gaming proposals including the Houlton Band of Maliseets proposed casino project. Maliseets Tribal Chief Brenda Commander says its not the news they wanted to hear, but the tribe is deterred in their resolve to bring the project to fruition. “We are disappointed but we are very persistent and after a lot of thought and discussion moving forward with the gaming initiative we will continue to pursue that and find another avenue such as going to the federal government or pursuing it again in the next legislative session,” says Chief Commander.The Maliseets aren’t the only ones disappointed with the move. Houlton municipal officials say it’s a step backward in a project that could move the economic future of Houlton and the region…for that matter, forward. Gene Conlogue, the Houlton Town Manager says “Obviously I’m a little disappointed, but not surprised because gaming is still a controversial issue for a lot of people in Maine.”
Two weeks ago, the House voted in favor of the proposal and sent it for Senate approval. It failed once with lawmakers suggesting a commission be set up to examine the issue of more gaming enterprises in Maine more closely. Although a formal commission has still not been created, the measure was put forth before the Senate again Thursday afternoon, where it failed. Commander says the project is could be a WIN WIN for the state economy and tribal self sufficiency. “It creates revenue to the county specifically but more importantly it’ll help the lives of our tribal members because the revenue will be a contribution to the lack of funding that we get for Indian health services and all of the other programs that we have,” affirms Commander. Conlogue adds “its another economic driver in the area its a job creator its offers people another form of recreation without them going to Bangor or further south and there’s no reason not to have such a facility in Northern Maine.” Chief Commander says the vote is just one hurdle to overcome. She says in the meantime, the tribe will continue working on other projects and programs that benefit the community.