Amended sports betting bill passes Maine Senate

The state of Maine has made progress on legalising sports betting in the state.

A bill that would legalise sports betting in the state of Maine has been approved by the state’s Senate by a vote of 23-12.

The legislation will now head to the House which is currently in a special session as the state tries to work through a backlog of bills.

Although the Senate approved the bill in a special session after the regulator session ended, several amendments were made.

The proposed bill was then sent to the House, where the Senate amendment was adopted after being amended by the House. The House amendments of the bill have yet to be published.

The bill was then read and passed to be engrossed. This process involves sending the bill back to the Senate to approve changes made by the House. If both the House and Senate pass an identical bill, it may then be sent to the Governor for final approval.

The amended bill

The bill, LD 2352, was first introduced by Senator Louis Luchini in April but has undergone several amendments in regard to who can apply for a betting licence.

Initially, the legislation would have allowed for a commercial racetrack, an off-track betting facility, a slot machine or casino operator, or a federally recognised tribe to apply for a licence. However, the amended bill would limit sports betting licenses to casinos.

The new amendments to the bill include increasing the starting and renewal fees for a betting licence from $20,000 to $100,000. The Senate also removed the need for authorisation from a qualified gambling entity to approve a licence.  The third amendment included an obligation to report abnormal betting activity to the Department of Public Safety Gambling Control Unit.

Under the legislation, it will be prohibited to promote or advertise sports betting to people under the age of 21 as well as near schools.

Wagering on tournaments that involve Maine’s college teams will be permitted as long as a Maine team isn’t involved in a particular match or event.

Another amendment would also allocate 0.55% of adjusted gross sports wagering receipts to entities that conduct live harness racing in the state by the State Harness Racing Commission.

An additional 0.55% would go to the Sire Stakes Fund and 0.4% would be allocated to the Agricultural Fair Promotion Fund.

Will the Governor approve the bill?

This marks the latest attempt to get sports betting off the ground in the state of Maine.

Last year, Governor Janet Mills vetoed a bill that would have brought sports betting to the state. Although the state Senate voted to override the Governor’s decision, the House did not.

Mills expressed concerns around social issues that come with sports betting, but the 2021 bill seems to address those with provisions relating to responsible gambling and advertising.

Luchini has said that he has been working with the Governor’s office on the new bill.

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