The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, that also oversees gaming, voted this week to kill all but one sports betting bill in Maine. The committee will now choose several provisions to include in the recommended bill (LD 553). The legislation will likely allow sports gambling on mobile devices and websites. Bettors will also only be able to wager on pro sports games. One other provision that might be added is to allow sports gambling at high-stakes bingo halls or off-track betting parlors operated by Native tribes in the state. Sports betting could come to fruition in Maine sooner rather than later if the legislation can quickly hash out the framework to this bill.
The Maine Gambling Control Unit has some stats about sports betting in the state. If passed, it’s estimated that Maine would only take in around $380,000 from sports betting based on projected wagers of around $3.8 million. This is a very conservative number and one that shouldn’t be taken as fact. As seen in other states, projections can be way off. In Rhode Island, the actual revenue has fallen well short of early projections. However, in New Jersey, the revenue has greatly exceeded all early projections
The following bills were a few of the known sports betting proposals killed off this week:
Not everyone is supportive of sports betting in Maine. Some lawmakers, like Rep. Josanne Dolloff, are concerned about the spread of problem gambling. Some are worried about how easy it is for kids to gain access to gambling apps using mobile phones. Dolloff made the following statement in her public objection to sports betting:
“I sure as heck don’t want somebody’s grocery money going towards this.”
The panel should submit a revised bill for consideration by the end of May. With that said, the opposition is more of a minority at this point than a powerful majority.
Since May of 2018, when the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting outside of Nevada, seven states have joined Nevada in offering legal sports gambling. Those states are New Mexico, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Delaware. Two states, New York and Arkansas, both have recently passed sports betting legislation.
If Maine legalizes sports betting sooner than later, they will be the only state in the New England region to have sports betting other than Rhode Island. However, none of Maine’s neighboring states are even as close as Maine to making sports betting legal.
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