• State lawmakers in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee have thrown out all sports wagering bills except LD 553.
  • LD 553 is a “concept bill” that will allow the committee to build their own sports wagering framework from scratch.
  • There is no hard timeline for legal sports betting in Maine.

AUGUSTA, Maine – Sports betting was nearly gutted in Maine yesterday, as lawmakers tossed out several proposals that would see the state legalize the popular gambling pastime. However, they stopped just short of a full reset.

After a handful of sports wagering bills were debated in the state legislature, Maine’s Veterans and Legal Affairs (VLA) Committee has narrowed the field of contenders down to one.

However, this doesn’t mean that sports betting will be coming to the Pine Tree State this year, as the sole bill saved for debate – LD 553 – is not a comprehensive framework.

In fact, LD 553, sponsored by Sen. Louis Luchini (D-7), is barely even a template. Entitled “An Act To Ensure Proper Oversight of Sports Betting in the State,” the proposal includes literally nothing at all about when or how the state will even consider implementing sports betting.

The bill also stops short of defining “sports wagering” or attaching any fiscal guidelines or projections to legal sports betting. It is effectively a blank slate.

This type of placeholder legislation is typically referred to as a “concept bill.” As such, it has introduced the concept of sports betting legalization in Maine while leaving all specifics up in the air.

Of course, that’s why the bill was attractive to legislators at the VLA, as it will allow the state – via the aforementioned committee – to piece together a comprehensive sports wagering bill of its own design.

While there is no indication of what specifically will make the cut for legal sports betting in Maine, bill co-sponsor and VLA member Scott Strom (R-106) hinted that major partnerships are already in the works (per CBS).

“[Sports betting is] going to provide more money for the casinos, for the off-track gambling places. We will get revenue from the online sources DraftKings and FanDuel. They will be providing like a state income tax for this.”

Strom further expects that revenue to be earmarked for the state’s general fund, where it will be used “to provide some good services to the state.”

Lawmakers expect Maine sports wagering to generate upwards of $800,000 per year in tax revenue for the state.

However, according to the American Gaming Association, actual tax revenue could range from $1.3 million to $9.4 million by 2023, depending on how ubiquitous sports wagering will be and how much tax will be levied on the profits thereof.

Which Maine Sports Betting Bills Were Eliminated?

In order to make room and buy time for the crafting of a sports wagering bill pursuant to LD 553, three other proposals had to be dropped.

That doesn’t mean that the ideas introduced in those proposals will be abandoned, however, as they’re likely to find their way into the VLA’s proposal.

A total of six bills were killed, but only three were specifically related to single-game sports betting. These were:

  • LD 1348  – “An Act To Authorize Sports Betting”
  • LD 1515  – “An Act To Allow Sports wagering in Maine”
  • LD 1571  – “An Act To Establish the Exclusive Right of the Federally Recognized Indian Tribes in the State To Conduct All Sports Betting in Maine”

All of these failed proposals go more in-depth on things that will likely be collected into one final omnibus sports betting bill.

These include allowances for sports wagering on tribal lands, the opening of physical sports betting lounges throughout the state, and online mobile betting.

Per the above, sports wagering operators could pay licensing fees of anywhere from $2000 to $100,000 or more, with annual renewals in the same range.

It is unlikely that Maine sports betting will be open to anyone under 21 years of age when it finally launches, and it is unknown whether or not the state will embrace some of its neighbors’ tactics in barring NCAA sports wagering.

The current timeline for the VLA’s sports wagering bill demands substantive progress within the next few weeks, though it seems unlikely that sports betting will roll out in the state anytime in 2019, even if legalized before the end of the current session.

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