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Sports Betting Moves Through Senate in Maine

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It appears that Maine will be the next state in the northeast region of the United States to legalize sports betting. However, there are still some questions around the state market moving forward. Sports betting passed through the Senate in Maine, but Governor Janet Mills, who has already vetoed wagering once, will have the final decision.

Thursday’s Special Session

The Maine legislature had already adjourned for the year, but a special session was called to pass a sports betting bill. The session occurred on Thursday and ended in the early hours of Friday.

The wagering bill, LD 1352, started the day in the Senate before transitioning to the House of Representatives. The House did not approve the updated bill, so they created additional amendments. LD 1352 then transitioned back to the Senate.

The chamber approved the bill by a voice vote on early Friday morning. The bill’s sponsor Louis Luchini was not happy with the amendments that were made to the legislation. He attempted to kill his own bill, but he was unsuccessful.

The amendment made by the House required online licenses to be tethered to current gaming facilities in the state. The bill is now in the hands of Governor Janet Mills, who vetoed sports betting once in January of 2020.

The legislation that Mills vetoed did not require sports betting operators to be connected to existing gaming facilities. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused states to struggle financially.

The COVID-19 pandemic hurt Maine, and sports betting could help fill the financial void. Legislators feel confident that Mills will pass the bill, but she will not have to decide for an extended period based on Maine law.

Details of LD 1352

It’s strange to see a bill sponsor object to their own legislation. Although, the House’s amendment requiring online betting platforms to be connected to existing gaming facilities was not his original thought.

He believes that this should not be the case, making him try to stop his own bill from passing. At Thursday’s special session, Luchini gave his thoughts on tethering.

“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.”

If Mills signs LD 1352 into effect, it will allow statewide mobile betting. Brick and mortar wagering facilities would also be prominent in the state.

Retail betting will be taxed at 10%, and mobile wagering would be hit with a 15% charge. The mobile wagering would have to be tethered to one of the existing gaming facilities.

This includes the state’s two casinos, five off-track betting parlors, one racetrack, or five federally recognized tribes. Many amendments were made on Wednesday to Luchini’s original legislation.

The licensing fee was increased from $20,000 to $100,000 every two years. People in the state can wager on tournaments that involve the University of Maine. However, no betting is allowed on the institution’s athletic programs.

A percentage of the tax revenue will be dedicated towards the State Harness Racing Commission, the Sire Stakes Fund, and the Agricultural Fair Promotion Fund.

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