Maine’s Sports Betting Legislation Lands on Governor's Desk

Maine’s Sports Betting Legislation Lands on Governor's Desk
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The tortured path of online sports betting legislation in Maine has wended its way to the desk of Gov. Janet Mills.

Early Friday, Gov. Mills received a bill from the state Senate that even its sponsor, Louis Luchini — who was unhappy with the way the bill was amended — tried to kill late in the week. As amended, the current bill would tether online licenses to existing gambling operators in the state.

Gov. Mills, who previously rejected sports gambling in 2020, has a few options with this new bill. She can sign it. She can veto it. Or when the legislature is in session and the governor has done neither within 10 days, the bill becomes law. But there are other controlling rules for when the legislature is in special session. The legislature happens to have been in a special session. And there apparently may be more special sessions this year.

On Thursday, the bill passed through as an amended version by the Senate by a vote of 23-12.

What’s In The Bill

The bill — LD 1352 — would allow 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 early Thursday morning by a 97-40 vote in the House and a 22-13 vote in the Senate on Thursday afternoon, gave initial approval to four Native American tribes in the state to have gaming businesses on their properties.

On Wednesday, 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’s Objection

Luchini is opposed to requiring digital platforms 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 Thursday's vote.

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