Maine Sports Betting Legalization Fails as Veto Override Falls Short

  • Attempts to override Maine Governor's veto on sports betting legislation unsuccessful
  • Senate was in favor of overruling veto but subsequent House vote fell short
  • Proposed bill initially garnered support from legislature, industry players, other states
  • Sports betting legislation will now be reconsidered at start of 2021 legislative process
veto document
There will be no legal sports betting in Maine until 2021 at the earliest after the latest House vote did not support the overriding of Governor Mills’ veto. [Image:]

Veto override attempt unsuccessful

Online and retail sports betting in Maine will not be legalized during the 2020 legislative session. This comes after the state’s House of Representatives failed to overturn the veto implemented by Governor Janet Mills. 

The legislature’s vote against overriding the bill veto was 85-57. The bill’s passage would have made Maine the 21st US state to legalize sports betting, and the third state in New England to do so.

New Hampshire and Rhode Island already have legal sports betting in the region, while Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont are still to legalize the activity. Each of these states is considering doing so during the 2020 legislative session.

Details of the failed bill

The initially sustained legislation was to allow Maine’s existing gambling facilities to partner up with third-party betting operations. It would have meant a limitless number of licenses available for digital sportsbooks. 

Digital sportsbook operators would not be required to partner up with a retail betting facility. Only two other states, Tennessee and Illinois, have this type of rule in place. 

a limitless number of licenses available for digital sportsbooks

Many representatives of the betting industry praised the forward-thinking nature of the Maine sports betting bill, with numerous other states looking to follow a similar framework for legalization. 

Licensing fees would have been the lowest in the nation at just $2,000. Attractive tax rates of 10% for retail sportsbook revenue and 16% for digital sportsbook revenue would be applied, intended to attract the biggest names in sports betting. 

The road to legalization

The sports betting bill was initially introduced into the Maine legislature back in June 2019. After a lot of back and forth in the Senate, the bill finally got approval. The House was a lot more supportive of the bill and quickly gave it passage. 

Gov. Mills believes the state does not currently have the right attributes

All indications were that Gov. Mills would put pen to paper on this bill. However, she utilized a pocket veto at the close of the legislative session in 2019, enacting a formal veto at the start of the 2020 session. Gov. Mills believes the state does not currently have the right attributes to be able to deal with legal sports betting. 

Overriding the veto would have necessitated a two-thirds majority. This was secured on February 6, narrowly following a 20-10 vote on the issue in the state Senate. There were reports that one Senator accidentally voted in favor of overriding the veto.

On Tuesday, the House vote fell short of its target. The legal sports betting issue will now be reopened at the start of the legislative process in 2021.  

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