PLEASANT POINT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Members of the Passamaquoddy indian tribe are once again looking to get state approval to build a casino near Calais. Yet this time tribal leaders say they are hoping local voters will be the ones to have the final say.
Over the past two decades, the Passamaquoddies have tried a number of times to get state approval for the casino. While gambling has expanded across Maine the nation's project has been repeatedly defeated. Most recently it happened in 2011 when Mainers voted down the casino in a state-wide referendum.
Tribal leaders are now planning to take the project back before the legislature but this time when it goes to the polls, they only want it before voters in Washington County. Maine's poorest county has a very high unemployment rate and about 66 percent of the Passamquoddy nation is out of work. Leaders say getting the casino project approved could change that.
"We still hope to turn the world around a little bit," said R. Clayton Cleaves, who is the tribal leader of the Passamaquoddies at Pleasant Point, "so that Native Americans...and there's not many really. There's about 3,700 Passamaquoddies today in Maine and we hope to change their lifestyles around by offering them career opportunities."
The tribe plans to resubmit a bill for the casino project in December.