Maine Governor Opens The Door To Legalizing Sports Betting

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After vetoing legislation in the past that would have allowed for sports betting in Maine, Governor Janet Mills signaled on Friday she is open to bringing it to the state.

But that doesn’t mean Mainers can bet on their favorite teams anytime soon.

The Bangor Daily News reported it had obtained a summary of Mills’ plans to offer mobile sports betting exclusively to federally recognized tribes in the state. 

This would be a big blow to casinos in the state who have been working on sports betting approval since the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that states can set their own rules.

Where Sports Betting Stands Now

Maine lawmakers passed on sports betting in 2020. Mills vetoed the bill because she did not support expanding gambling opportunities

Last year lawmakers passed a bill, Legislative Document 1352, that would have tethered sports betting to existing retail locations in the state. But Maine law requires a bill to be passed multiple times before it is sent to the governor for approval. LD 1352 did not pass again in 2021. 

Mills’ plans, as outlined in the Bangor Daily News, would give tribal members tax benefits. Any mobile licenses would have to be run by the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Micmac tribes. 

Similar to the bill last year, however, some established brick and mortar facilities, namely Off Track Betting locations, would be allowed to offer sports betting as well. 

Lawmakers told the newspaper they are hearing from industry lobbyists who are not happy about the proposal. 

Nearby States Offer Sports Betting

Since the 2018 Supreme Court decision several New England states have begun offering sports betting.  Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut all have programs up and running.  Massachusetts has been debating sports betting for the last year and the governor has signaled he is on board. 

During an interview conducted before Mills’ plans were reported Daniel Wallach, a gambling expert who monitors state efforts to expand sports betting, predicted Maine could be one of several states this year to finalize sports betting.

Wallach said the states that are surrounded by other states allowing sports betting will begin to feel increased pressure to bring the program inside their own borders.  

“Maine is a possibility,” he said. 

Also read: It’s Time For North Carolina Mobile Sports Betting, Gov. Cooper SaysSouth Carolina Gubernatorial Candidate Eyes Sports Betting

About the Author
Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today with a focus on legislation and political content. Mary is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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