In the three days since Maine Governor Janet Mills vetoed a sports betting bill, Mainers have voiced their discontent in a big way, through an editorial in the Bangor News and with a host of heated and angry comments on Twitter.
All that fodder may be enough to get lawmakers to swap sides and override Mills’ veto, and lawmakers have put the veto override on Tuesday’s Senate calendar for consideration. If this storm of feedback is any indication, sports betting is obviously what Mainers want. And the legislature can make it so with a two-thirds vote in each chamber, as vetoed bills in Maine automatically go back to the legislature for consideration of a veto override.
Maine could become one of the most inclusive sports betting states in the nation, as LD 553 calls for sports betting at both retail locations and via mobile apps, at casinos, OTBs, on tribal lands, and at harness-racing tracks. It also would allow just about anyone interested in opening a sportsbook to do so, at a relatively low tax rate and with low application fees.
Mainers are mad and going to NH to sports bet
Here’s a look at some of the feedback from Mainers … and the New Hampshire representative that backed that state’s new sports betting law:
Just a note to my Maine neighbors, NH is happy for you come across the border and place your legal sports bet. In the 1st 10 days over $5,000,000 was legally bet in NH / over 17,000 people registered to play. @GovChrisSununu @NHLottery and @DKSportsbook https://t.co/t8xHpfbO2D
— NH Rep Tim Lang (@tlangsr) January 10, 2020
Sir, I'm with the Maine nanny state enforcement agency (aka the no fun group) and I'm going to have to ask you to take your activities to New Hampshire. Reminder Maine does not allow sports betting. Don't make me get the taser out 🤨 https://t.co/nFj8h7i9iw pic.twitter.com/HXR9dYH7hS
— TheMaineTweeter🇺🇸 (@TheMaineTweeter) January 13, 2020
Welcome to Maine, where you can’t spend your money on sports betting and gambling, but can go shoot up heroine in a “safe building”
— Indy Dunton (@ShmindyD) January 13, 2020
This is the world we are living in Maine. Tieing the hands of the lobster industry. Maines greatest export. 5.5 sales tax. While our neighbor New Hampshire has a 0.0 sales tax and just legalized sport betting. We rank highest taxes,lowest income and our schools are near last https://t.co/Xm6nMLYZ0K
— Republican Heart (@HeartRepublican) January 10, 2020
The veto all but chides lawmakers and the citizens of Maine, as well as showing Mills’ obvious disdain for legal sports betting, using words like “frenzy” and “hungry” in relation to states that have legalized, and saying that “the Supreme Court said we could regulate it; but that does not mean we have to.” She also suggests that legal sports betting could result in betting “on the weather, spelling bees, and school board elections.”
Mills, whose background is in law enforcement, is a former state Attorney General. Given that the bill passed through both legislative chambers with little opposition, her veto is vexing.
In her veto, Mills certainly implied that she expects the legislature, which goes back into session on Tuesday, to try to override her veto.
Should the Legislature override this veto, or should the Legislature take up a similar measure next year, my administration will continue to help with drafting and analysis to best address the unique needs of our state. … At the same time, if the Legislature is serious about cracking down on illegal activities, it should consider penalties that are more serious and more consistent with the Maine Criminal Code, including recognizing the financial gain of the offender, rather than the misdemeanor penalties described in Section 1216 of the bill. In the meantime, of course, federal sanctions prohibit gambling activities of any sort that are not allowed under state law.
No question this will be an interesting week, with all sports betting eyes on Maine, one of the smallest states in the nation. When Mills vetoed on Friday, lawmakers from across the country were gathered in San Diego for the National Council of Lawmakers From Gaming States convention. Reaction was stunned and swift, including these words from CEO of the American Gaming Association Bill Miller — who was giving his keynote address to the group when the decision came down:
“I think that if I were a betting man, and naturally I am because I have this job, I would have bet that it would have become law without her signature,” he said.
And consultant Brendan Bussmann, from Global Market Advisors:
“It’s disappointing to see that governor veto a bill that had solid support within the legislature,” he said. “That doesn’t occur without listening to your constituents.”
New Hampshire became the second New England state and last of six to go live with sports betting in 2019, when DraftKings launched its online sportsbook on Dec. 30. Maine is looking to become the first New England state that would offer bettors a choice in sports betting — both New Hampshire and Rhode Island are single-source operator states. DraftKings has a monopoly on retail and online sports betting in New Hampshire, though Intralot is set to run the New Hampshire Lottery’s offering when it launches later this year, and IGT runs the mobile and two retail locations in Rhode Island.
Mills was the third governor who failed to sign or vetoed a sports betting bill over the last year. In Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee let sports betting become law without his signature, and in Montana, Governor Steve Bullock vetoed one of two sports betting bills in 2018, making the lottery the sole provider. Neither state has launched sports betting yet. Montana’s legislature tried to override that veto, but failed.