Maine’s sports betting bill ping-ponged around Augusta Thursday and into the wee hours Friday morning, landing where it started the day — in the Senate — after the House failed to concur on an amended version of LD 1352. Finally, at 12:30 a.m. Friday, the Senate concurred via voice vote, sending the decision to legalize sports betting to Gov. Janet Mills for the second time since 2019.
The bill would allow statewide mobile wagering and requires digital platforms to be tethered to existing gaming facilities. After the Senate amended the bill in a heated session earlier Thursday, the House amended it again late in the day, and sent it back to the Senate. The House amendment would prohibit sports betting operators from offering wagers on “occurrence of injuries or penalties, the outcome of player disciplinary rulings or replay reviews.”
That language is part of sports betting laws across the country, and according to one source, was inadvertently left out of the majority committee report — otherwise known as Senate Amendment “A” — that the Senate approved earlier in the day.
Governor has multiple options
Mills, who vetoed a sports betting bill in January 2020, likely won’t be required to sign the bill anytime soon. According to Maine’s rules for how a bill becomes law, the governor has 10 days when the legislature is in session to sign or veto a bill. If it is not signed or vetoed within 10 days, it automatically becomes law. If the legislature adjourns for the year, the bill does not become law, and if the legislature reconvenes for a special session, the governor must veto by the fourth day or the bill becomes law.
The legislature is currently in the First Special Session of the year. It is unclear how long the session will continue, but it’s likely the legislature will return for a second special session to finish work on the state budget and determine how best to allocate federal COVID relief funds.
LD 1352 started Thursday on the Senate floor where bill sponsor Louis Luchini tried to kill it after his peers added an amendment that requires digital platforms to be tethered to existing gaming venues. Luchini has been staunchly opposed to tethering, and the bill that Mills vetoed in 2020 allowed for stand-alone mobile platforms.
Maine Sports Betting Bill Sponsor Tries To Kill Own Bill, But It Passes Senatehttps://t.co/3RTAbR4bas
— Alfonso Straffon 🇨🇷🇺🇸🇲🇽 (@astraffon) June 17, 2021
Should Mills sign the bill, Maine would become the fourth New England state to legalize sports betting behind Rhode Island (2018), New Hampshire (2019), and Connecticut (2021). Massachusetts lawmakers held a lengthy hearing on sports betting June 17, but didn’t take any action. The only New England state that has not seriously considered legal sports betting is Vermont.
New Hampshire is the only Maine border state with live, legal sports betting. DraftKings has a monopoly on digital and retail wagering there, and it’s an open secret that Mainers are traveling over the state line to place wagers. Those are wagers — and tax dollars — that Maine lawmakers would like to keep at home.
The Senate also passed SB 587, which would up to three bidders to be approved for advance deposit wagering “that provides maximum benefit to the harness racing and the State.” Luchini also asked his colleagues not to pass this bill.