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Maine Governor Presses Pause On Sports Betting Measure

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Sports betting in Maine has been placed on hold. Governor Janet Mills opted not to sign the sports betting measure. Mill declined to act on nearly 40 bills approved by lawmakers, so she could review them further.

The sports betting bill (LD 553) was passed on the last day of the legislative session and was expected to be signed by Mills despite her not fully supporting expansion of gambling in the state.

However, because of the timing of the session ending, Mills was able to use a rule to basically put the bill in a holding pattern until lawmakers reconvene, either during a during a special three-day legislative session or when the next session begins in January 2020.

“The Legislature has passed a significant number of bills this session, and I take seriously my constitutional obligation to thoroughly review all of them, evaluate their implications and decide whether they are in the best interest of Maine people,” Mills said in a statement last week. “I will continue to review these bills and gather more information, and I look forward to acting on them at the beginning of the next legislative session.”

It’s unclear if after Mills’ review she will sign the bill, not sign the bill, let it become law, or veto it. However, because she didn’t outright veto the measure, the door is open for its refinement and may lead to her signature.

Senator Louis Luchini, the bill’s sponsor, told the Associated Press he is happy to work with the governor to improve the bill.

“Just generally, any time you expand gambling in the state, you want to tread carefully,” Luchini said.

“I think we’ll just use the time between now and then to see if there’s anything we can do to make the bill better,” he added.

The measure’s particulars:

  • Bettors must be 21 years old
  • Wagers would be allowed at any of 11 brick-and-mortar facilities, including two casinos, one racetrack, four off-track betting parlors and facilities affiliated to the state’s four Native American tribes four tribal casinos
  • Brick-and-mortar facilities will be taxed at 10 percent
  • Betting also OK’d for online and mobile devices
  • Sportsbooks operators have the option to be online only with a 16 percent tax rate
  • Online sportsbooks do not have to partner with a land-based facility
  • Gambling on professional, college and other amateur sports is allowed; betting on high school sports and in-state college and university sports is prohibited

Maine expected to see $4 million in sports gaming revenue in its first two years. One percent of the revenue would go toward a fund to aid gambling addiction and prevention.