Another Step Remains in Maine Before Bill Heads to Governor

Another Step Remains in Maine Before Bill Heads to Governor
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Online sports betting legislation in Maine has one more hurdle to clear before it can go to Gov. Janet Mills’ desk.

With LD 1352 engrossed by the House and Senate on June 17 and June 18, respectively, the sports betting legislation has been approved in an initial round of votes.

What still needs to happen in Maine is a round of enactment votes in both chambers before being sent to Mills, according to spokesperson for the Maine Senate. When that happens is uncertain as both chambers’ agendas have not been updated on when these votes could occur, although it’s expected by the end of the month.

Once it goes to the governor, she'll have 10 days to either sign the bill into law, veto it or allow it to become law without her signature. It had appeared the bill was sent to Mills on June 18, but another step remains.

Mills vetoed sports betting legislation in 2020.

On June 16, LD 1352 was amended in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, adding a tethering requirement among several changes.

Those changes include:

  • Capping the number of digital licenses to three;
  • Increasing the licensing fee from $20,000 to $100,000 for two years;
  • Allowing bettors to wager on tournaments in which University of Maine teams are participating but not on games in which the Black Bears are competing;
  • And a requirement that a percentage of the tax revenue derived from sports betting would be for the State Harness Racing Commission, the Sire Stakes Fund, and the Agricultural Fair Promotion Fund.

Sponsor Not Happy With Amendments

Last week, the bill’s sponsor Sen. Louis Luchini, who was unhappy with the way the bill was amended, tried to kill the actual bill late in the week. As amended, the current bill would tether online licenses to existing gambling operators in the state.

Luchini is opposed to requiring digital platforms such as DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook to be tethered to brick-and-mortar casinos.

“Tethering is being driven by the casino industry. It’s bad for our constituency. It’s anti-competitive. It makes the casinos the gatekeepers of who will be able to operate in Maine,” Luchini said at last Thursday's vote, which passed through as an amended version by the Senate by a vote of 23-12.

The legislature happens to have been in a special session where other controlling rules have been activated for when the legislature is in special session and more special sessions may happen this year.

What’s In The Bill

The bill allows statewide mobile betting with a 10% tax for brick-and-mortar and 15% for digital.

It also would allow for retail/mobile wagering tethered to one of the state’s two casinos, five off-track-betting parlors (OTB), one racetrack, or five federally recognized tribes.

LD 554, which was passed on June 17 by a 97-40 vote in the House and a 22-13 vote in the Senate, gave initial approval to four Native American tribes in the state to have gaming businesses on their properties.

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