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It’s called the Senate’s “Special Appropriations Table,” but Maine lawmakers know it’s where bills affecting the General Fund often go to die, so when the sports betting legislation (LD 585) was freed from that designation on Monday it was a good sign that it could soon become law.
Last year, a similar sports betting bill (LD 1352) landed on that same appropriations table, and it was essentially never to be seen again, but now LD 585, which was approved by Maine’s House of Representatives last week, can move another step forward in the legislative process.
The bill in question – LD 585 – would legalize both in-person and mobile sports betting in the Pine Tree State by offering ten retail sports betting licenses to casinos, tracks, and OTBs and by offering four mobile sports betting licenses, one for each of the state’s four native tribes.
That bill – LD 585 – also addresses tribal sovereignty by including provisions regarding tribal-state relations and taxes, issues that are important to the state’s original inhabitants who are still reeling from the blowback caused by a 1980 law that limited their ability to offer gambling.
It’s up to Maine’s governor now to sign LD 585 into law.
Last week, both the Maine House and Senate gave their green light to LD 585, so to have it sit on the Senate’s “Special Appropriations Table” could have undone a lot of time and effort spent on getting the legislation that far into the process of becoming a law.
Thirty other states in the US have done the same by legalizing, regulating, and launching their own sports betting market, and now Maine Governor Janet Mills must decide if she wants the same for the gambling residents of her state, something she vetoed altogether back in 2019.
Maine lawmakers have indicated Gov. Mills is likely to sign LD 585, perhaps her way of addressing native sovereignty without supporting the other bill – LD 1626 – meant to fix that issue head-on, with Mills writing:
To help us continue to move forward, I ask that LD 1626 remain with the Legislature and that LD 585 be enacted into law while we continue our work together on areas of mutual concern.
The clock is ticking, however, and meanwhile, Maine bettors continue to place their action elsewhere.
Maine faces the same reality that many other US states are dealing with which is that their neighbors are already in the sports betting game, so residents only have to drive to New Hampshire (and maybe Massachusetts soon) to place a legal sports wager.
The other alternative is to gamble using illegal bookies or unregulated offshore sportsbooks, with both options containing their own element of risk, a dilemma that adds to the time crunch of signing LD 585 into law since it will still take some time to set up and launch that legal market.
Once Gov. Mills signs that bill, Maine’s Department of Public Safety must first publish a general set of regulations before it can start to issue licenses, a tedious process that we will continue to report on so keep checking back for all the latest news and updates.
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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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