Maine Tribal Gaming, Question 3 (2003)

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The Maine Tribal Gaming Initiative, also known as Question 3, was on the November 4, 2003 ballot in Maine as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was defeated. The measure would authorized the Passamaquoddy Indian Tribe and the Penobscot Indian Nation to operate a gambling casino by amending the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act. The authority to operate the casino would have lasted for 20 years and could not have been repealed or amended without the consent of the tribes.[1][2]

Election results

Maine Question 3 (2003)
Defeatedd No346,58367.03%
Yes 170,500 32.97%

Election results via: Maine Secretary of State, Elections Division: Referendum Election Tabulations, November 4, 2003

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

ME2003Nov Question 3.PNG



The following description of the intent and content of this ballot measure was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

This proposed statute would amend the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act to authorize the Passamaquoddy Indian Tribe and the Penobscot Indian Nation to operate a gambling casino in Maine. The proposed statute grants this authority for 20 years and, unlike other statutes, may not be amended or repealed without the consent of the tribes.

The casino must be located on non-tribal land or territory. The site would be selected by the tribes and would be subject to approval of the local municipal government.

The tribes would be permitted to conduct any and all forms of gaming and wagering at this site, including but not limited to card games and table games, such as blackjack, poker, dice, roulette and baccarat; money-wheels; bingo; bazaar games conducted for merchandise prizes; lottery games; and video facsimile machines. Video facsimile machines may include mechanical slot machines as well as electronic devices used to play any game of chance or skill on a video screen. Individuals under the age of 21 would be allowed to play only those games that depend primarily on luck rather than skill to win and for which the prize is some type of merchandise rather than cash, and would be admitted only to those facilities where such games are played.

The proposed statute contains numerous complex provisions regarding regulatory standards, enforcement, taxation and revenue. Some of these provisions are described below.

A tribal gaming agency established by the tribes would be responsible for regulatory oversight of gaming at the facility and would set the standards for operation and management of the site. The Department of Public Safety would have limited authority to review those standards and to adopt rules governing the licensing of gaming employees and the registration of gaming enterprises, but the proposed statute requires those rules and standards to be substantially the same as those currently in effect in Connecticut. The language of the proposed statute grants enforcement authority to state law enforcement officials to enforce criminal laws of the State that do not conflict with this proposed statute. The proposed statute states that the gaming facilities at the site would be subject to state laws and regulations relating to building, sanitary and health standards for public facilities, fire safety and water discharge laws, and traffic standards. The proposed statute does not expressly provide that other environmental laws would be applicable.

The business entity set up by the tribes to operate the casino would make an annual payment to the State of 25% of the revenue from any video facsimile machines in operation at the facility. Revenue is defined as the total amount wagered on those machines less the amount paid out on those wagers. The proposed statute does not provide for a minimum number of video facsimile machines at the facility, nor does it provide for a minimum amount that the state would receive in revenues. The facility would be subject to real and personal property tax, and the tribes and the business entity operating the casino would be subject to sales and use taxes, liquor taxes and tobacco taxes. The proposed statute implies that the tribes are not subject to state income tax. Under existing law, however, the tribes’ business enterprises are treated as business corporations and subject to income tax. To the extent that the tribes or business entity operating the casino are subject to income tax, this proposed statute provides that they are entitled to a credit against such tax in an amount equal to any video facsimile revenue that is paid to the State.

The State is entitled to assess the tribal gaming operator annually to cover the "reasonable and necessary" costs of regulation and law enforcement investigations under the Act. Other costs resulting from gaming operations at the site would have to be paid out of any video facsimile revenue received by the State. The proposed statute provides that any revenues remaining after covering those costs would be allocated as follows: 50% to municipal revenue sharing, with the stated intent to provide local property tax relief; 40% to general purpose aid to local schools; 5% to the Maine State Grant Program for grants to Maine residents pursuing higher education; and 5% to the Finance Authority of Maine for distribution to nonprofit organizations whose principal purpose is to provide scholarships or otherwise enhance higher education opportunities for Maine students.

If approved, this Act would take effect with respect to each tribe only after each tribe certifies that it has agreed to the provisions of the Act within 90 days after the Governor’s proclamation of the vote.

A "YES" vote is in favor of the initiative and approves the legislation.
A "NO" vote is in opposition to the initiative and disapproves the legislation.


Maine Secretary of State [1]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Maine

A total of 51,665 petition signatures were submitted to place "The Maine Tribal Gaming Act" before the state legislature. The secretary of state certified the petition, and the measure became known as Legislative Document 1370. It was referred to the Joint Standing Committee for Judiciary for public hearing on April 11, 2003. On May 29, 2003, the house of representatives accepted the Majority Ought Not to Pass Report, and the Maine State Senate did the same on May 30. Since the legislature failed to enact the measure, Governor John Elias Baldacci on June 23, 2003, called for the measure to be voted upon by the people.[1]

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