Maine Sports Betting Still Stuck After Special Session Provides No Answers

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Maine sports betting

When Maine Gov. Janet Mills declined to act on a passed sports betting bill in July, speculation grew about whether she would call a special session to address her issues with it.

Mills did call for a special session, but it had nothing to do with Maine sports betting. The session, which took place Monday, was an effort to pass four bond bills for the November ballot. Only the transportation bond passed, with Republicans voting down the other three bonds.

The legislative session had no impact on the sports betting bill, which now will remain in limbo until January.

Maine sports betting jonesing for January

Rep. Scott Strom, who supported LD 553’s passage, told Legal Sports Report that he is hearing Mills will try to get the sports betting bill sent back to committee for changes.

“It sounds like the governor wants us to tether online sites to brick-and-mortar sites,” Strom said. “It looks like the fight over sports gambling will pick back up in January.”

The bill would allow both retail and online Maine sports betting via 11 properties — one racetrack, two casinos, four off-track betting and four tribal casinos.

Upon passage, the bill was lauded for setting up an open and competitive marketplace allowing companies without a physical presence in the state to participate independently.

Sponsoring Sen. Louis Luchini explained to the Portland Press Herald: “We don’t require Amazon to tether to existing grocery stores and we don’t require Airbnb to tether to hotels.”

Special session needed more days

In most states, if a governor takes no action on a bill, it becomes law.

That would have happened with the Maine sports betting bill if the legislative session was ongoing when the bill reached Mills’ desk. Since the legislature had already adjourned, that triggered an unusual rule to put the bill on hold until the next legislative session.

She has three days in the next legislative session, whether special or regular, to veto the bill or work out a compromise. If Mills again chooses not to act in those three days, the bill automatically becomes law.

Because the special session lasted only a single day, it did not affect the Maine sports betting bill.