Last year, Gov. Janet Mills punted on making a decision whether to allow state lawmakers to legalize and regulate Maine sports betting.
This week, the ball is headed back in her direction.
Mills can sign the legislation, let it go untouched to become law without action by the end of the day Friday or stall the bill over with a veto.
“I don’t think she will sign it,” Maine Rep. Scott Strom told Legal Sports Report. “So it’s between a veto or let it slide without her signature.”
Sources indicate to LSR that the governor is still taking input on the issue this week.
How Maine sports betting got the squeeze
The Maine Legislature passed a bill on June 19, the last day of the legislative session, to legalize sports betting.
The bill would allow for the state’s two commercial casinos, four tribal casinos, racetrack and four off-track betting parlors to offer sports betting on their properties and online.
Maine, what are you doing?
An oddball rule allowed Mills to essentially ice the bill.
She decided not to act within 10 days, and because the Maine Legislature was no longer in session, the bill was tabled until the beginning of the next legislative session. In most states, a governor not acting on a bill makes it automatically go through.
The state constitution gives Mills three days to act on the bill once the legislature was back in session. The 2020 session began Wednesday.
If she doesn’t act this time, the bill automatically becomes law. Mills would need to veto the legislation to stop its advance.
Lawmaker urges Mills to allow sports betting bill
Strom penned a column advocating for Mills to allow the Maine sports betting bill to become law for the Bangor Daily News.
Strom wrote in part:
“I look forward to the day when Mainers can wager on their favorite players and teams in a safe, legal way, right here in Maine. I urge Mills to allow this legislation to become law and begin eradicating the illegal operators’ stronghold on our consumers. Not allowing LD 553 to become law will only serve to benefit select special interest groups and, most of all, illegal bookmakers.”
Last year, Strom told LSR he believed Mills didn’t want to put her name on a bill expanding gambling in the state, but that she realized there was a black market that needed to be regulated.
It could come down to that Mills didn’t have the option of letting the bill pass without her signature. Now she does.
Mills doesn’t have the option to line-item veto a portion of the bill. She would have to veto the bill and work with legislators to craft new legislation this session.
Neighboring New Hampshire and Rhode Island already feature active legal sports betting industries.