Maine Sports Betting Bill Heads For Second Chance On Governor’s Desk

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Maine sports betting

Another Maine sports betting bill has landed on the desk of Gov. Janet Mills.

The Maine House and Senate both approved sports betting legislation late last week, giving Mills a decision on ME sports betting for the second time.

She of course vetoed the 2019 ME sports betting legislation, voicing concerns about a “frenzy” of gambling. Mills said at the time:

“While legalized sports gambling may attract some revenue to the state coffers, the same economic premise in theory would justify legalizing all forms of gambling: betting on the weather, spelling bees and school board elections, for instance.”

Will Mills change her stance in 2021?

Mills now has 10 days to sign the bill from when it was passed by the House and Senate.

That makes June 30 the key date.

But there’s another potential stumbling block. 

Countdown is on for Maine sports betting

The ME legislature is in a special session to get through a backlog of bills.  It is not clear when that will formally end.

But if the Legislature adjourns for the year before the 10 days expires, the bill doesn’t become law. Mills could then push her decision to January –  exactly as she did in 2019.

That means Mills will have to sign the bill rather than just let it pass into law. This could be a small but crucial difference for a known gambling critic.

Another twist in Maine sports betting

A separate bill passed last week that allowed Maine’s tribes to open casinos on their land.

“I’d hope she would just sign it, but the surprise passage of expanding tribal gaming has thrown a wrench into things,” said Maine attorney Steven Silver.

The governor has historically clumped all forms of gambling together, Silver said.

Therefore. the prospect of double gambling expansion could put her off both bills.

Reasons for optimism

But there are reasons for optimism around the 2021 push.

For one, the 2021 legislation includes tethering, requiring mobile licensees to partner with local gambling outlets.

That means the state’s casinos, tracks, tribes and OTBs are on board, unlike in 2020

Tiny tweaks could go a long away

Similarly, bill sponsor Sen. Louis Luchini said he had been working closely with the governor’s office throughout the legislative process.

His bill included clauses to allay previous concerns about advertising to children, for example.

Keeping up with the Joneses

The success of nearby New Hampshire sports betting is another positive factor.

“That rivalry is a real thing,” said Silver. “People don’t like seeing tax revenues go over the border.”

Neighboring Canada also just repealed its ban on single-game sports betting this week.

What else is in the Maine sports betting bill?