Last Bill Standing: Maine Focuses on Sole Sports Betting Measure

  • The Maine Legislature Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs rejected three bills on Friday
  • Legislators will now focus on Senator Louis Luchini’s bill, which favors an untethered market
  • Senator Luchini proposed a similar bill last year but Governor Mills vetoed it
  • State lawmakers are aiming to address the governor’s concerns with this latest bill
  • Legal sports betting in Maine could contribute $5m in annual tax revenue upon market maturity
one green pawn standing amid white knocked-over pawns
A Maine Legislature committee rejected three sports betting legalization bills on Friday and will now focus on the single remaining measure, LD1352. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Legislators vote down three bills

Lawmakers in Maine have voted against three sports betting legalization bills and will now focus on one specific measure. The Maine Legislature Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs had been considering four bills, each of which had its own plan for licensing and regulations. The voting took place on Friday.

Senator Louis Luchini is the sponsor of the sole remaining bill, LD1352, and the chairman of the Maine Legislature Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs. Lawmakers will now work on developing LD1352 and look to make any necessary changes.

If legislators take an untethered approach, online sports betting operators would not need to partner with a physical facility

One of the hot topics of debate in the state is whether or not licenses should be tethered to facilities such as casinos and racetracks. If legislators take an untethered approach, online sports betting operators would not need to partner with a physical facility in Maine to get a license. Senator Luchini’s bill favors the latter.

Addressing the governor’s concerns

Senator Luchini also proposed an untethered model last year. The Maine Legislature passed the bill, but Governor Janet Mills vetoed it. She had numerous concerns about the legislation, including a lack of provisions to ensure that minors could not access online sportsbooks, and issues regarding the exposure of underage people to pro-gambling marketing messages.

In vetoing the bill, Gov. Mills concluded: “I remain unconvinced at this time that the majority of Maine people are ready to legalize, support, endorse, and promote betting on competitive athletic events.”

hope that Governor Mills will put pen to paper

Lawmakers will now look at addressing these concerns with the active bill, as well as considering any other issues that committee members may raise. By doing so, they hope that Governor Mills will put pen to paper this time around.

As part of Senator Luchini’s bill, the existing pari-mutuel facilities and casinos in Maine would need to pay 10% of gross gaming revenue from sports betting to the state. The tax rate would rise to 16% for online sportsbooks.

Attempts to get sports betting over the line

Legal sports betting was extremely close to becoming a reality in Maine before Governor Mills vetoed the bill in January 2020. The legislature attempted to overrule the veto, but this ultimately proved unsuccessful in February 2020.

Maine is a relatively small state, so legal sports betting wouldn’t create a huge market here. Previous projections estimated that annual tax revenue from legal wagering activity in the state could reach $5m when the market matures. Rhode Island and New Hampshire are the only other states in New England that currently have legal sports betting.

A hearing on the three failed sports betting bills and the active proposal took place in April this year, where numerous stakeholders had their say on the bills.

The state’s two commercial casinos expressed their support for a tethered approach to legal sports betting. Other parties that provided testimony included the National Council of Problem Gambling, the Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery, and an NFL representative. BetMGM, FanDuel, and DraftKings submitted joint written testimony at the hearing.