Maine’s Betting Bills Whittled Down To One
- Governor Mills famously hard to convince that legal sports betting worthwhile
- Sen. Louis Luchini’s attempts to legalize betting continues, three years later
- The session ends in mid-June; lawmakers need to amend and pass the bill through both chambers by then
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Senator Louis Luchini Continues to Push for Betting
Senator Louis Luchini has been a proponent of legal betting since 2019 when states saw the potential revenue stream betting could bring after the overturning of PASPA. PASPA banned sports betting on a federal level, but since it is no longer in effect, states all across the country have been pushing for legal bets with mixed success. Maine is one such state that hasn’t been able to get a bill signed into law, mainly owing to the fact that Governor Janet Mills can’t be convinced that Mainers are “ready” for legal wagering.
LD 1352 is much the same as the bill that was attempted in 2019. It’s one of the so-called “untethered” sports betting bills, which means that licensees would not have to partner with an existing brick-and-mortar gambling venue to secure a license to offer online sports wagering. The only requirement for a licensee would be that they’ve offered sports betting in some jurisdiction in the United States, meaning that any number of qualified operators could easily apply.
Only One Bill Remains After Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs
Four bills attempting to carve out legal sports betting in the Pine Tree State were presented to the Maine legislature, one of which was Luchini’s LD 1352. Three of those bills did not make it through the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs in spring 2021, leaving Luchini’s the only bill left standing.
What’s most likely to happen now is that lawmakers will amend the current bill to make it more attractive to Governor Mills, who has cited concerns that betting will be marketed to children or that betting will occur at school spelling bees, issues that most lawmakers don’t consider as likely. Still, Luchini’s bill isn’t much different from the bill that Mills vetoed in 2020, so it will need some serious editing before it will be likely to pass muster with the surprisingly conservative Democrat.
Governor Not Likely to Sign Bill As-Is, Arguments on Both Sides
Though his bill needs amendments, it has some pretty substantial support in the legislature, including the backing of the Department of Public Safety’s Gambling Control Unit and Johnathan Navabi, VP of Public Policy & Governmental Affairs for the NFL. Both bodies argue that legalized betting would help to rein in illegal bets and make betting less attractive to children, not the opposite as Governor Mills believes.
However, business interests in Maine aren’t as eager about the new bill. Penn National representatives running the Hollywood Casino location in Maine, as well as reps from the other Maine casino run by Churchill Downs, have their arguments. They state that they’ve already spent millions to be properly licensed to offer in-person gambling in the state, and so Luchini’s untethered bill would allow operators who haven’t put money into the Maine economy to “jump the line”, so to speak.
What’s Next for Maine Sports Betting?
The Maine Legislative session adjourns in mid-June, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see major changes developing by then. In order for a bill to become law this year, lawmakers would have to amend LD 1352 in such a way that Governor Mills wouldn’t use her executive power to shoot it down by the session’s end.
The session can be extended a few days according to Maine state law, but seeing as the Committee on Veterans and Legal affairs has only just now approved LD 1352, it’s most likely going to be a “better luck next year” situation unless Mills has had a major change of heart, or the amended LD 1352 is a slam-dunk piece of legislation. The bill is filed “Voted-Divided Report” as of May 28th, 2021, which tells us that lawmakers still don’t agree on the bill. Time will tell, but sports betting legislation is not expected to pass in Maine this session.
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Chris Altman is a traveling writer and content specialist covering everything from betting to plane crashes. He has been working in sports betting, specifically legislation for some time now, covering industry developments and the legal landscape of sportsbooks in the U.S. Chris is also a published short story writer and zine editor. Email: [email protected]