With literally only hours remaining in the current Maine legislative session set to adjourn Wednesday, three amendments were filed to the sports betting bill that many in the industry considered dead. Sources say the Senate will extend its session in hopes of voting on LD 1352 and the amendments. The Senate adjourned at about 9:30 p.m. local time Wednesday with plans to reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday.
For operators, the biggest change is in Amendment B, which appears to cap the numbers of digital licenses at just three. From the amendment:
Notwithstanding section 1207, subsection 2, paragraph E, the director shall develop a request for proposals for the purpose of awarding 3 qualified gaming entities the privilege to receive a mobile sports wagering license. The director shall ensure that the request for proposals clearly identifies the deadline for submission and all bid requirements. The director shall follow, as nearly as practicable, the provisions governing the competitive bid process prescribed by Title 5, chapter 155, subchapter 1-A and the rules adopted pursuant to that subchapter.
In the original version of the bill, there was no cap and digital platforms were not required to be tethered to brick-and-mortar gaming locations. In multiple workgroup sessions, it appeared that lawmakers were heading toward requiring that digital platforms be tethered to existing gambling facilities. But the amendment does not appear to require tethering.
License fee going up to $100K
Other key changes in the amendments include:
- Increasing the licensing fee from $20,000 for two years to $100,000 for two years
- Clarifying language allowing for bettors to wager on tournaments in which Maine teams are participating, but not on games in which Maine teams are competing. For example, wagering on The Beanpot college hockey tournament would be permissible if the University of Maine is in the field, but games involving University of Maine could not be bet on
- Prohibiting in the law “misleading, deceptive, or false” advertising and advertising targeted at those under the age of 21
- Requiring that a percentage of sports wagering tax revenue be earmarked for the State Harness Racing Commission, the Sire Stakes Fund, and the Agricultural Fair Promotion Fund
The language around advertising is clearly a nod to Gov. Janet Mills, who in 2020 vetoed a sports betting bill in part due to her concerns about gambling addiction and advertising to minors. The amendment also spells out that about $359,000 will be funneled to the Department of Health and Human Services, which would administer problem gambling programs.