Maine lawmakers toss three sports betting bills to focus on one

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Posted: May 30, 2021, 10:23 pm.

Last update on: May 30, 2021, 10:23 pm.

Maine lawmakers passed four laws this year, each aiming to legalize sports betting. But last week three were kicked off the committee.

Maine Sports Betting Louis Luchini
Maine Senator Louis Luchini. The Democrat, a former professional runner who competed in the US Olympic Trials in 2004 and 2008, is leading a legislative effort to legalize sports betting in the state. (Picture: Bangor Daily News)

On Friday, the Legislative Committee on Veterans and Law rejected three articles aimed at expanding gambling in the state to include sports games. The decision came after committee members agreed to work on another sports betting law introduced by Senator Louis Luchini (D-Hancock).

The goal for state officials who want to allow legal gambling in Maine is to get Governor Janet Mills (D) a bill to sign. In January 2020, the first-time governor rejected a law passed law on sports betting.

“I think this bill is a good effort for those who want to bring to the public a black market activity that is practiced by many today,” Mills said of her decision at the time. “But respectfully, I am currently not convinced that the majority of the people of Maine are willing to legalize, endorse, support, and encourage betting on competitive sports events.”

Mills added that she was concerned that the law did not contain adequate provisions to ensure minors would not have access to online sports betting platforms.

Appeasing governor

Mills has raised concerns that many sports betting and daily fantasy sports television commercials and online advertising campaigns target teenagers. Luchini, chair of the Veterans and Legal Committee, says lawmakers will work together to develop a sports betting law that provides protection for children.

“Sports betting cannot be marketed to children. That was rightly a big problem for the governor, ”Luchini said recently.

Another key component is whether online sports betting should be tied to stationary casinos and equivalent betting facilities. The two state casinos – Hollywood Casino Bangor and Oxford Casino Hotel – have campaigned for this.

However, Luchini advocates a cordless model that allows sports betting to apply for mobile operating rights without having a retail presence.

It’s more of a market-based competitive style, ”said Luchini. “My priority is not helping the casinos make more money. It is designed to help Maine bettors have the best options they can. “

Penn National Gaming, the operator of Hollywood, says a free for all mobile sports betting market will cause problems.

“Allows an unlimited number of [sports betting] Maine licensees, many of whom do not have a comprehensive security framework, could result in significant state regulatory burdens and fraudulent or predatory practices, ”said Jeff Morris, vice president of public affairs and government relations at Penn National.

Potential revenue

According to Luchini’s sports betting bill early in 2021, every licensed online sportsbook will pay the state $ 20,000 annually for such gaming privileges.

The legislation – Senate Paper 1532 – gives casinos a tax break. For land-based sports betting in Hollywood or Oxford or for sports facilities of the same rank, the gross gaming tax on sports betting would be 10 percent. A tax of 16 percent would be introduced for online income from sports betting.

Tax forecasts suggest that Maine could receive $ 5 million in new tax revenue annually from legalizing sports betting once the market is fully operational.



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