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For almost four years, Maine sports bettors have been waiting for state lawmakers to pass legislation that would create a legal and regulates sports betting market there but so far all attempts have come up short, though one bill seems to be getting some traction.
The bill, called Legal Document 585 (LD 585) and sponsored by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, would give a sports gambling monopoly to the state’s native tribes, called the Wabanaki Nations, and last week it was passed by the Maine House Judiciary Committee by an 8-6 vote.
This monopoly would include sole access to the lucrative mobile sports betting licenses that would give them the legal right to launch and operate such a market.
The four Pine Tree State tribes – Maliseet, Micmac, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy – already have an agreement with the state in place called the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980, and LD585 would make amendments to that compact aimed at benefitting those tribes.
Even Governor Janet Mills is on board as we reported last month and she has shifted her stance on this issue.
The legal sports betting issue has hit the main stage in the U.S. ever since May 2018 when the Supreme Court overturned PASPA and gave each state the right to set up their own sports gambling market and regulate and tax it the way their lawmakers and voters see fit.
For a long time, Gov. Mills opposed that type of operation for her state but has shown recent support for LD 585 and the idea that the Wabanaki Nations should be given a sports betting monopoly to benefit members of their tribes.
Chief of the Penobscot Indian Nation Kirk Francis sees the bill as a potentially lucrative chance to benefit the state’s native population, telling the media:
“The amendment to LD 585 will help to improve dialogue between state agencies and the Wabanaki Nations and provide the Wabanaki Nations and our citizens with tools to create economic opportunities for us and these surrounding communities.”
Of course, those uninvited to the party are against this bill and have begun to campaign against it.
Not included in the sports betting monopoly that LD 585 would allow are the existing outside sportsbook operators like DraftKings and FanDuel and Caesars and others who would not be allowed to launch their popular apps in Maine.
Also not included would be the state’s two existing casinos – the Hollywood Casino in Bangor and the Oxford Casino in Oxford – neither associated with any tribes and wanting a piece of the future action is the state of Maine begins allowing legal sports betting to take place.
Those out-of-state sportsbooks want a different bill – L.D. 1352 – to become law since it would allow for a sports betting market in Maine that would be open to both the native tribes and outside operators, an option that would give bettors more competitive choices and odds.
For right now, the discussion on Rep. Ross’s LD 585 has been tabled for future debate and most likely a full House vote, a good sign that the issue is not dead yet, so check back for all the latest news and updates on this ongoing quest to get legal sports betting to Maine.
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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. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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