Maine sports betting got stuffed at the goal line in 2020 and the state does not have legal sports betting despite its legislature approving it.
No state came closer than Maine to passing sports betting legislation without getting it done.
After the legislature passed a sports betting bill in 2019, Gov. Janet Mills used a quirky rule to delay her decision to 2020. She then vetoed the bill in January, but the Senate reached the high two-thirds threshold needed to overturn the veto.
It seemed like the House was poised to complete the veto override until the governor lobbied to protect her decision. Now Mainers will have to wait until 2021 for another chance at a regulated option to bet on sports, or else go next door to New Hampshire.
The future of sports betting in Maine
After the governor’s veto stood, the Maine legislature didn’t try to pass another bill because 2020 was a short legislative session in which policy typically isn’t introduced.
Sports betting legislation will have to start the process all over again next year and likely wouldn’t pass until the near the end of the session in June 2021.
It would then need to get through the governor again, or perhaps repeat the cycle from 2019-2020.
The two commercial casinos in the state also played a roll in the veto. Hundreds of employees from Hollywood Casino Bangor and Oxford Casino called their legislators claiming they would lose their jobs if the bill went through, according to Rep. Scott Strom.
The legislature might need to reach an accord with the casinos to get the legislation past the governor.
When will online sports betting launch in Maine?
When an ME sports betting law does pass, there is likely to be online sports betting in Maine.
The legislation vetoed by the governor would have allowed companies without a physical presence in the state to acquire mobile sports betting licenses, which is what upset casinos.
The casinos support sports betting in Maine, but want to uphold their edge by not allowing outside companies to offer sports wagering independently. They want any companies offering online sports betting to need to partner with their land-based properties.
The solution proposed by the Maine legislature was a tiered tax structure of 16% for online wagers and 10% for land-based betting.
One aspect to watch in 2021 is if any mobile sports betting operator entering the state is required to tether with an existing physical operator.
Recent Maine sports betting news
Legal sports betting options in Maine
Aside from betting on horse racing, there are no legal sportsbook websites that accept bets from anyone within the state of Maine.
There are illegal offshore websites that offer sports betting in Maine. They do not hold a license from any US jurisdiction to legally accept bets from residents.
Without regulation from the state, these offshore betting apps can’t be counted on to pay out winnings and have been known to disappear with people’s money.
The only safe and protected way to bet on sports in the United States is to do so with a licensed operator.
Most popular/potential sports to bet on in Maine
With a population of just 1.3 million people, Maine has no professional sports teams nor any major college athletic programs.
However, as part of New England, Mainers have a lot of love for the Boston-area teams such as the New England Patriots in the NFL, Boston Celtics in the NBA, Boston Red Sox in Major League Baseball and Boston Bruins in the NHL.
Maine and Daily Fantasy Sports
Sites that operate in Maine include DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo!, and Fantasy Draft.
The Gambling Control Unit within the Department of Public Safety regulates fantasy sports.
Only sites with in-state revenue in excess of $100,000 need to pay a license fee of $2,500 annually and a 10% tax.
The minimum age to participate in fantasy sports in Maine is 18. The law prohibits based on collegiate or other amateur events.
Is horse racing legal in Maine?
Yes, Maine has harness racing with wagering at Scarborough Downs from April to December and Hollywood Casino and Raceway (owned by Penn National Gaming) from May through November.
The Maine State Harness Racing Commission provides oversight and support for the industry, which also includes four off-track betting parlors in the state.
Maine sports betting timeline
2020: Mills makes Maine mad
When the Maine legislative session resumed on January 8, Gov. Mills had three days to veto the prior year’s Maine sports betting bill or allow it to become law.
On the final day, she cited concerns about expanding gambling in the state as she vetoed the bill.
In her veto statement, Mills wrote:
“I remain unconvinced at this time that the majority of Maine people are ready to legalize, support, endorse and promote betting on competitive athletic events.”
It seemed unlikely that the Maine legislature, with an overwhelming Democratic majority, would be willing to override the veto of a governor from their own party.
However, lawmakers showed their strong support for legalizing sports betting in Maine by making a strong push for the override.
Senate President Troy Jackson waited three weeks for the right combination of members to be present to hit the two-thirds threshold to overturn the veto.
Rep. Strom was confident all along that the votes to override were there in the House.
However, after the governor lobbied to protect her veto, House Speaker Sara Gideon ran the vote immediately. Although 85 representatives votes to overturn the veto compared to 57 who wanted it to stand, the override failed. Ninety-four votes were needed to reach the two-thirds requirement.
Maine seemed to come out of nowhere to pass a sports betting bill through both chambers on the final day of the legislative session in June.
In the bill, Maine sports betting would be authorized at 11 properties — one racetrack, two commercial casinos, four tribal casinos and four off-track betting parlors. Online operators also are allowed to enter the state without partnering with land-based entities.
Gov. Mills declined to sign the bill but also didn’t veto it within 10 days. In most states, the bill becomes law with no action from the governor.
Maine’s constitution instructs that, if the legislature is no longer in session, inaction stalls the decision to the first three days of the next legislative session.
Maine sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Maine?
No, right now there are no legal options for sports betting in Maine. Any site claiming to offer legal betting is an unregulated offshore sportsbook operating illegally in the United States.
Who would oversee betting in Maine?
The Gambling Control Unit established as a bureau within the Maine Department of Public Safety would oversee ME sports betting, as it does with daily fantasy sports.
Will mobile sports betting be allowed?
Most likely. The vetoed bill permitted online sports betting in Maine without requiring companies to tether to land-based properties.
There are some sports betting websites that say they accept bets from the United States. Are those legal options?
No. There are currently no sportsbook operators that are licensed at the federal level, which means all US sportsbooks are licensed at the state level. Any website that suggests betting from anywhere in the US is allowed is a website that operators offshore. It is not legal for those sites to accept bets from US citizens and those sites offer no protection to those who bet on them.