It’s been more than a long strange trip for legal sports betting in Maine. In 2019, the Maine legislature – with bipartisan support – passed a model sports betting bill the embraced a fully free market with mobile and retail licenses. But Governor Janet Mills vetoed the bill claiming she was unconvinced Mainers wanted legal sports betting and fearing wagering on spelling bees and Little League. (seriously, can’t make that part up).
The same month of Gov. Mills’ veto, New Hampshire launched and has since raked in $1.25 billion in handle with $37.8 million in tax revenue for the state. The Maine Senate successfully voted to override Gov. Mills’ veto, but the House fell a few votes short of the 2/3 vote needed to override the veto.
Undeterred, the legislature passed another sports betting bill cutting casinos, tribes, and OTBs into mobile and retail sports betting. It seemed to have unanimous support, but then it died on the appropriations table.
Despite the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee spending three-plus years working on sports betting legalization, the Democratic leadership moved a bill into the Judiciary Committee that gave the state’s four federally recognized Indian tribes, known as the Wabanki Nations. a monopoly on mobile wagering. And get this, it originally cut the casinos out. Ultimately, what passed permits casinos and OTBs to offer largely worthless retail-only sports betting with the tribes maintaining a monopoly on mobile wagering. Maine loves reinventing the wheel.
Legal sports betting should launch sometime in early 2023. Here is Steve’s breakdown of Maine’s peculiar law:
“Maine Legislators Take Major Step Toward Legal Sports Betting” – Sports Handle
“Maine Sports Betting Bill Likely Heading To Governor” – Legal Sports Report