Maine sports betting is getting ready for its second attempt at legalization. Senator Louis Luchini, who was the main backer and supporter of sports betting last year, has filed Senate Bill 1352, a bill that would legalize sports betting in the state.
Maine is the latest state to file for a sports betting bill in 2021, as many states have attempted to legalize. Specifically, in the North East of the United States, we have seen Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Maryland all file for new sports betting bills in order to legalize or expand sports betting.
What Happened Last Year?
Last year the Maine legislature was successful in working together and passing a sports betting bill that had bipartisan support from just about every angle of government, except for one. Governor Janet Mills vetoed the bill after delaying acting on it for months upon months.
This came as a shock to many in both the State House and State Senate, especially considering Janet Mills’ odd reasoning stating that she did not believe the people of Maine were “ready” for sports betting. However, when looking deeper, we saw that Penn National and Churchill Downs, the two main casinos in the state, were vehemently opposed to the bill since sportsbooks would not need to partner with them. This means that they would be missing out on a huge chunk of revenue in exchange for purely being casinos in the state.
When seeing that the casinos were opposed, it makes much more sense that the Governor thought the public was “not ready.” According to Bangor Daily News, “Gov. Janet Mills hauled in nearly $277,000 in donations … 80 percent from corporate donors and most of it from the marijuana, financial, casino, lobbying, paper, and energy industries.”
It is rather evident that these campaign donations and lobbying efforts from the casinos got to Janet Mills. Unfortunately, this means that Maine was unable to get one of the most bettor-friendly bills that has been written past the executive branch in the state.
2021 Attempt: SB 1352
Senator Louis Luchini is not backing down in this new bill, as he is going for the same structure that will allow online sportsbooks and new sportsbooks to enter into Maine without the need to partner with the local casinos. There would be a $20,000 licensing fee and a 10% tax on the gross revenue of these sportsbooks.
So, it seems that the same exact same issues will arise with the casinos pleading for this not to be passed. Most likely, this bill will once again fly through congress, and the pressure and spotlight will be put on Janet Mills. It will be interesting to see if she stands her ground in support of the casinos while masking it as some odd altruistic view that Maine is “not ready,” or is she going to allow this bill, which obviously is supported in the legislative branch, to go through.
Maine may be the most interesting state to watch for the 2021 sports betting cycle as there is a clear storyline and a clear path to legalization and launch. Hopefully, Maine can join fellow North-East states like New Hampshire, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maryland, and New York in having legal sports betting.