Multiple sources confirmed to Sports Handle that the Maine Senate on Tuesday will vote to override Governor Janet Mills’ veto of sports betting legislation. The sources, who wish to remain anonymous, said the Senate is on the cusp of having enough votes for the override. The Senate would need a two-thirds vote to override the veto. There are 35 members in the Senate.
Both Maine legislative chambers passed sports betting in June 2019, and sent the bill to Mills for signature. It then sat on her desk until Jan. 10, when she vetoed it, writing that the “Supreme Court said we could regulate it; but that does not mean we have to,” and suggesting that Mainers weren’t ready for legal sports betting.
But Mills also clearly expected opposition to her veto.
Democrats have majority in both chambers
“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,” she wrote in her veto letter to lawmakers. “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.”
If this storm of feedback is any indication, LGAL sports betting is obviously what Mainers want.
And the legislature can make it so with a two-thirds vote in each chamber.https://t.co/IEBxXSmvZi
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) January 14, 2020
The Democrats control the Senate, 21-14, and Mills is a Democrat, so there has been plenty of political wrangling going on in the last three-and-a-half weeks. The bill has bi-partisan support — the key sponsors are Democratic Senator Louis Luchini and Republican Representative Scott Strom.
The bill, LD 553, would legalize retail and state-wide mobile sports betting with a 10% tax rate on retail wagering and 16% on mobile betting, and is generally considered a model bill by stakeholders. The bill allows for up to 11 retail sports betting licenses — four each to the state’s tribes and OTBs, two for existing commercial casinos and one for a harness-racing track.
Should the Senate override the veto, the House could then call a vote to do the same. The Maine House has 151 voting members, and the current makeup is 87 Democrats, 56 Republicans and six Independents. House bill sponsor Strom wrote in an e-mail to Sports Handle that he has “a lot of faith that the House can override the veto.”
Sports betting a hot topic around New England
Should that happen, Maine would become the third New England state to legalize sports betting behind Rhode Island and New Hampshire. In both of those states, the lottery is the regulator and only one mobile platform is available to bettors. Maine’s bill would allow for a more competitive marketplace.
— Carol Robidoux (@ManchInkLink) January 10, 2020
Interest in sports betting has been heating up in New England of late. In Connecticut, a pair of lawmakers shared a draft of a gaming bill that includes sports betting that they plan to file once the state’s General Assembly opens its session Wednesday, and in Massachusetts, there has been lots of chatter about sports betting, but lawmakers have yet to come to a consensus.
Tuesday’s Maine Senate session is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m EST. The Legislature adjourns in April.