Maine Sports Betting Bill Passes Senate Despite Sponsor U-Turn

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Maine sports betting

The Maine Senate approved a sports betting bill despite a surprise U-turn from the bill’s own sponsor. 

Sen. Louis Luchini spoke out against his LD1352 in a special legislative session Thursday morning.

Specifically he decried the tethering clause added to the bill last month

Why the U-turn?

The clause required mobile wagering operators to partner with local gambling outlets like casinos and OTBs to get a license.

At the time, Luchini seemed resigned to the fact that tethering was the only way for the bill to move forward. But on Thursday, Luchini reversed course and spoke out against the amendment.

“Tethering is bad for our constituents,” Luchini said “It’s anti-competitive. It makes the casinos the gatekeepers of who will be able to operate in Maine.”

Luchini says open market best for ME bettors

Luchini said he supported an open marketplace, rather than one where digital operators had to pay their land-based competitors.

The subsequent market-access fees mean Maine bettors will get worse odds, Luchini said.

Despite the Senator’s protestation, his colleagues passed the bill, 23-12.

What’s in the Maine sports betting bill?

Three amendments were filed to LD1352 on Wednesday night.

The key amendment added tethering for mobile wagering licenses.

It also raised license fees to $100,000 for two years.

What next for ME bill?

The bill now goes to the House, which is also in a special session as Maine scrambles to work through a backlog of bills.

The House could hear the bill this week.

Maine attorney Steven Silver said the legislation stood a strong chance of passing the House, given the strong bipartisan support in the Senate.

Governor still a roadblock?

The bigger wildcard is Gov. Janet Mills, who vetoed the ME sports betting bill last year.

She expressed some social concerns, but the 2021 bill appears to address those with provisions around responsible gaming and advertising. 

Luchini said he had been working closely with the Governor’s office on the 2021 bill.

Wide support for Maine sports betting

Silver noted this year’s bill is also backed by the state’s gambling stakeholders – casinos, tracks, and OTBs- unlike in 2020. 

Last year Penn National, owner of the Hollywood Casino Bangor, was a staunch opponent of Luchini’s sports betting bill because it did not include tethering.

This year, all stakeholders appear on-board, and that could make the difference in final passage, Silver said.