Maine sports betting bill heads to Governor for approval

Maine’s legislature has sent a sports betting bill to the Governor for a second time.

A bill that would legalise sports betting in the state of Maine has been sent to Governor Janet Mills for final approval after clearing the House and Senate.

The bill was approved by the Senate with a vote of 23-12 last week, before being sent to the House where it was also approved.

Bill heads to Maine Governor

The legislation, LD 2352, will now head to Mills who will make a decision on legalising sports betting for the second time.

In 2019, Mills vetoed legislation that would have permitted legal sports betting in Maine and voiced concerns over a “frenzy” of gambling.

During this time, Mills said: “While legalized sports gambling may attract some revenue to the state coffers, the same economic premise in theory would justify legalizing all forms of gambling: betting on the weather, spelling bees and school board elections, for instance.”

This time around, Senator Louis Luchini who introduced LD 2352 in April said that he has been working with the Governor’s office on the new bill, which means there is hope for the bill.

Maine must act quick

Mills now has 10 days to sign the bill from the date it was approved by the House and Senate.

However, Mills will have to act quickly as the state legislature is currently in a special session as it tries to get through a backlog of bills. It is not entirely clear how long the special session will run.

If the legislature wraps up before the 10 days expire, the bill will not come into law and Mills could defer her decision to January 2022.

What’s covered in the bill?

Under the legislation, online and land-based sports betting would become legal in the state of Maine.

Initially, the legislation would have allowed a commercial racetrack, an off-track betting facility, a slot machine or casino operator, or a federally recognised tribe to apply for a sports betting licence. However, a Senate amendment to the bill limits this to just casino operators.

The Senate also amended the bill to increase starting and renewal fees for a betting licence from $20,000 to $100,000. On top of this, the Senate also removed the need for authorisation from a qualified gambling entity to approve a licence.

Furthermore, any abnormal betting activity must be reported to the Department of Public Safety Gambling Control Unit.

It would also be illegal to promote or advertise sports betting to minors or 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.

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