Maine Governor Signs Legal Sports Betting Into Law, First State to Do So in 2022

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated October 14, 2022
4 min read
Maine Governor Signs Legal Sports Betting Into Law
  • On Monday, Maine Governor Janet Mills Signed Sports Betting Bill LD 585 into Law
  • LD 585 Fails to Solve the Issues of Tribal Sovereignty in Maine
  • Maine Becomes First State in 2022 to Pass a Sports Betting Legalization Bill

On Monday, Maine Governor Janet Mills Signed Sports Betting Bill LD 585 into Law

Last month, both the Maine Senate and House gave their go ahead to a bill – LD 585 – that would legalize sports betting in that state, and unlike a similar bill last year that was sent back to the Appropriations Table to die, LD 585 has just been signed into law by Governor Janet Mills.

That signature happened May 2, and now it looks like Pine Tree State bettors will only have to wait until the end of July to begin placing in-person sports bets at the state’s two commercial casinos and its harness racing tracks, with mobile legal wagers following soon after.

It was no given that Gov. Mills would sign off on LD 585 – after all, she vetoed a similar proposal back in 2020 and requested more studies on sports betting be done before “rushing” into legalization – but this time around Mills was happy to comply, telling the press:

I am proud of the work that the Wabanaki Nations and the State put into drafting this legislation, and I am grateful for the honest effort, the extensive research and the hundreds of hours of negotiations and discussions which bore fruit in this bill.

The one thing LD 585 does not do is properly address the issue of tribal sovereignty.

LD 585 Fails to Solve the Issues of Tribal Sovereignty in Maine

The U.S. Constitution recognizes Indian tribes as “distinct governments” with essentially the same powers as federal and state governments to regulate their internal affairs, but this tribal sovereignty has not fully existed in Maine where native lands remain under state jurisdiction.

LD 585 does not address these sovereignty issues, though the new law does give the Wabanaki Nations control over legal sports gambling, both in person and mobile, a big step given that those tribes currently have zero assets in that lucrative industry.

Tribal leaders will not let the need for total sovereignty drop, saying in a recent statement:

Permanent sovereignty restoration remains the legislative priority for the Wabanaki Nations, and it will continue to be our priority moving forward.

It’s a tricky balance to work out, but that is the goal of a different bill currently being considered by Maine’s legislature, one that they most likely will begin debating now that state lawmakers have begun to gather again at the start of this week.

Maine Becomes First State in 2022 to Pass a Sports Betting Legalization Bill

The signing into law of LD 585 means that for the first time in 2022, a state has passed a legal sports betting bill, with Maine now joining the over 30 other states who have already legalized their own sports betting market that resident gamblers have been thoroughly enjoying.

It does take some time to launch a legal sports betting market after signing a new sports betting bill into law, with industry players needing to issue licenses to qualifying applicants as well as set up the physical and virtual infrastructure needed to take bets and pay out the winners.

By the end of the summer, Maine bettors could be able to place legal sports wagers, which is good news since that means they will be able to make bets on the upcoming NFL season, a new market that should benefit native residents as they continue to seek sovereignty there.

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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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