• Maine sports betting bill L.D. 553 passed through both legislative chambers on June 19, 2019, the last day of the legislative session.Sports betting
  • in Maine will be offered through both retail gaming facilities and through state-wide mobile wagering apps.
  • If the bill is still not signed within three days of the next legislative session, it will become law.

AUGUSTA, Maine – Sports betting in Maine will have to wait for an indefinite amount of time. Maine Governor Janet Mills did not sign off on M.E. L.D. 553  before her 10-day deadline. The bill cannot be enacted into law and will now sit in her office until the next legislative session.Once that happens the governor will have three days to decide whether or not she will veto the bill or let it become law without their signature.According to the Maine Constitution Article IV, Part III, Section II:

“If the bill or resolution shall not be returned by the Governor within 10 days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to the Governor, it shall have the same force and effect as if the Governor had signed it unless the Legislature by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall have such force and effect, unless returned within 3 days after the next meeting of the same legislature which enacted the bill or resolution; if there is no such next meeting of the legislature which enacted the bill or resolution, the bill or resolution shall not be a law.”

Lawmakers have the ability to call a special session this summer but whether or not they will is still uncertain.

Why Didn’t Governor Mills Sign The Bill?

The Maine sports betting bill was touted by many in the industry as the path for other states to follow, due to its free-market approach.

M.E. L.D. 553 will allow both retail sportsbooks to operate in traditional gaming facilities and would permit state-wide mobile sports wagering apps. Where this piece of legislation differs is that it would not require online sports betting providers to partner with retail locations.

“To me, it’s a strange way to write a law that would require a new business to come into Maine only if they tether their license to an existing business,” said Senator Louis Luchini, during a floor debate in the House. “We don’t require Amazon to tether to existing grocery stores and we don’t require Airbnb to tether to hotels.”

Because of this measure, online and land-based sportsbooks in Maine would be taxed differently. Land-based gaming establishments would be taxed 10 percent of their sports betting revenue and online operators would be taxed 16 percent.

However, there was no cap set on how many online operators could enter the state and every gaming facility would qualify to offer the activity. This means a large expansion of gambling that would be readily available to Maine residents no matter where they are.

Fears of increased gambling addiction are a common theme among state officials. Last month, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee let sports betting pass in his state without his signature due to his personal moral opposition to the issue.

Governor Janet Mills could follow the same path and let the bill pass without her signing off. If she decides to veto M.E. L.D. 553, the state Senate could override the veto with a two-thirds vote. However, the Senate only passed the bill originally with a 19-15 vote. It would take 24 Senators to override the decision.

In either case, a decision will have to wait. This means that sports betting in Maine will likely not come in time for the 2019 football season, the highest sports betting period in the US.

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