Maine Governor Janet Mills

  • Maine’s Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs voted on SP 437 on Friday.
  • Around $5 million is expected to be taxed into Maine coffers from sports betting revenue.

AUGUSTA, Maine – While Maine sports betting started the year with a few options on the table, legislators on Friday narrowed down their scope to just one sports betting bill.

After tossing aside SP 452, SP 454, and HP 1131, the Maine Legislature agreed to discuss only the bill from Senator Louis Luchini (D-Hancock).

With just SP 437 left on the docket, the Legislature’s Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs seems set on presenting Governor Janet Mills with another sports betting bill.

Last time, in early January 2020, Governor Mills rejected the sports betting bill, LD 553, for a variety of reasons including miscalculated revenue expectations, the targeting of minors toward sports betting, and a question regarding mobile operators.

Luchini, who is the Committee’s Chair, will undergo an attempt to meet these criteria set out by Governor Mills.

As a former runner, Luchini’s background in sports sets him as a great connection between the Maine sports betting hopefuls and the gambling industry as a whole.

With a joint effort from his committee, the first step will be breaking down the mobile requirement.

“It’s more of a free-market competitive style,” said Luchini. “My priority is not to help the casinos make more money. It’s to help the Maine bettors to have the best options that they can.”

Questioned as to whether to allow an open market in Maine or to only permit brick-and-mortar gambling facilities to host a “skin” for sports betting, the former is the guide under SP 437.

While major casinos like Oxford Casino and Hollywood Casino as well as horse racing facilities desiring the opposite, opposing voices have already been noted.

“Allowing an unlimited number of licensees in Maine, many without an extensive framework of security could result in significant regulatory burden for the state and fraudulent activity or predatory practices,” said Jeff Morris, Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Penn National Gaming.

Either way, an annual $20,000 licensing fee would be required by the sports betting operators, whether positioned as a brick-and-mortar legal sportsbook or an online one.

The one major difference comes with taxes.

Similar to New Jersey, Maine will look to tax online sports betting and land-based sports betting at different rates. Currently set at 10% of the gross gaming revenue for land-based facilities, online sportsbooks would be taxed at 16% – giving a slight boost to the bottom line of the established Maine casinos and pari-mutual betting locales.

Under these numbers, Maine is expected to see roughly $5 million a year in sports betting tax benefits, with 1% (~$50,000) being held for a new Gambling Addiction Prevention and Treatment Fund as well as administrative costs for the Gambling Control Unit.

With the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs having tabled the bill twice in May, all signs point to Maine sending another sports betting measure to Governor Mills before 2021 ends.

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