Maine Debates “Free-Market” Approach To Online Gambling

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A bill in the Maine state legislature would allow online gaming operators to receive a license without partnering with a land-based casino, in what is being deemed a “free-market” model for online casinos and sportsbooks. It is unclear if the bill will become law, as both supporters and detractors have emerged.

Previously, most states have elected to require online operators (whether they are launching sportsbooks or online casinos) to forge partnerships with existing “brick-and-mortar” casino operators. Only two states, Tennessee and Wyoming, have not required a “tether” to a land-based casino or licensed operator.

Proponents of the bill, which was introduced by Democratic State Senator Louis Luchini, argue that it would let operators avoid tethering fees normally associated with a partnership requirement. Luchini believes a free market system will result in more competition and a better product for the end consumer.

Those opposed to the bill include Governor Janet Mills, also a Democrat, who vetoed a similar bill in 2019. Mills and allies in the legislature contend that tethering is necessary to ensure that online casinos and sportsbooks are operated by established entities. They cite the problems in Tennessee with Tennessee Action 24/7, an independent sportsbook that was not tethered to a real-world casino entity and was suspended under claims of money laundering.

Regardless of which method succeeds, it appears that Maine is poised to legalize online casinos and sportsbooks under some sort of framework.

Status Of Online Gambling In Maine

While Maine currently does not allow online gambling by law, it’s anticipated that a bill could be introduced during this session or the next, once details like the tethering piece are fleshed out.

Many prominent groups are in support of legalization. Recently, representatives of the National Football League, as well as officials from DraftKings appeared before committees in the state in favor of legalized sportsbooks and casinos.

Maine currently has four tribal gaming operations, two casino racetracks, as well as six off-track betting tracks, all of which have expressed interest in launching retail and online sportsbooks under a separate bill currently in committee in Maine.

About the Author

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes has written three books about sports. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He enjoys writing, running, and lemon bars. He lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters and usually has an orange cream soda nearby.

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