Maine Governor Flips on Sports Betting Issue, Now Backs Tribal Monopoly

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated October 14, 2022
3 min read
Maine Govenor Sports Betting Issue
  • Maine Governor Janet Mills Now in Favor of Retail/Mobile Sports Betting for Tribes
  • Proposed Amendment Would Give Native Tribes Sports Betting Monopoly
  • Outside Operators Find Monopoly Proposal “a bit of a head-scratcher”

Maine Governor Janet Mills Now in Favor of Retail/Mobile Sports Betting for Tribes

The road to legal sports betting in the state of Maine keeps getting trickier as Governor Janet Mills has now shifted her prior stance against bringing such a market to her state by backing an amendment to a bill meant to increase tribal sovereignty, L.D. 585, one that would give native tribes a sports betting monopoly in the state.

This comes in the midst of multiple attempts to address the concerns of Maine’s indigenous nations that the Indian Claims Act Of 1980 gives them fewer sovereignty rights than the other 570 tribes recognized in the United States.

It’s an unfairness that Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation insists needs to be addressed, telling state lawmakers:

The Wabanaki Nations have spent the past 40 years being treated like second-class sovereigns. We have watched out-of-state corporations come in and thrive by doing the very things that we should be able to do but for the settlement acts.

Governor Mills has opposed other attempts at righting this wrong, so her support of this latest amendment has turned a few heads.

Proposed Amendment Would Give Native Tribes Sports Betting Monopoly

The amendment that Gov. Mills now supports would essentially grant Maine tribes a monopoly on the in-person and mobile sports betting markets there, her new stance coming after her administration met with representatives from the Penobscot Nation, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, and the Houlton Band of Maliseets.

This represents a drastic shift from her opposition to another proposed bill, L.D. 1626, that would have also given tribes full control over Pine Tree State sportsbooks.

But Chief Francis is not convinced that the amendment that Governor Mills now supports will get the sovereignty job done, saying:

It is my hope that those discussions will result in benefits for both the tribal and non-tribal communities. However, I want to be clear that the Penobscot Nation does not view these discussions as a substitute or replacement of L.D. 1626, which is intended to modernize the state settlement act.

Regardless of how that contentious issue is handled, outside operators have a big problem with being left out of the potential Maine sports betting loop.

Outside Operators Find Monopoly Proposal “a bit of a head-scratcher”

Were the amendment to L.D. 585 or L.D. 1626 to become law and a tribal monopoly on sports betting is granted in Maine, outside operators like DraftKings, FanDuel, and commercially owned casinos would be kept out of that market.

That type of exclusionary legislature doesn’t make financial sense to many lawmakers and industry players like Chris Jackson, a lobbyist for the Hollywood Casino in Bangor, who, in reference to the proposed amendment, said on Maine Public Radio

To be candid, we find this bill to be a little bit of a head-scratcher.

Those out-of-state sportsbook companies prefer a different bill, L.D. 1352, which would allow for a sports betting market in Maine that would be open to both the native tribes and outside operators, a legislative compromise that is designed to please all parties.

No telling which direction this tricky road to Maine sports betting will take so check back for all the latest news and updates on this unfolding story.

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Mike Lukas

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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager.
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