Published: April 23, 2022

Maine House Votes to Support Legal Sports Betting, Senate Up Next

Last Week, Maine’s House of Representatives Voted to Legalize Sports Betting

Amendment Favorable to Maine Casinos but Opposed by State Tribes

Maine Congress has Previously Passed Sports betting Legislation but Governor Failed to Sign

It has been an uphill battle to bring legal sports betting to the state of Maine, but last week the state House of Representatives approved a sports betting bill that would allow casinos and racing tracks to launch an in-person sports gambling market while the tribes would get mobile.

Currently, Maine has two casinos – Hollywood Casino in Bangor and Oxford Casino in Oxford – and two horse racetracks – Scarborough Downs in Scarborough and Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway in Bangor – and this bill would allow each to operate a retail sports betting market.

In an effort to consider the native tribes of the state, the bill gives them the mobile sports betting market in Maine, which some argue is more lucrative than the in-person market since the majority of bets are placed online in the states where that activity has already been made legal.

This sports betting bill was approved in the House last week, and now it will be up to the state Senate to debate and pass the legislation before it can get to Governor Janet Mills’ desk to be signed into law, this legislation is intended to be a compromise to help expand state-tribal rights.

However, that sovereignty that the state’s native tribes ultimately seek could be what ultimately upends this bill.

Amendment Favorable to Maine Casinos but Opposed by State Tribes

Maine’s casinos and racetracks are relatively happy with this bill as it gives them the ability to offer sports betting to its retail customers, a nice bump in revenue for a market that already exists there.

Maine’s native tribes are happy with the part of the bill that gives them the mobile sports betting market, but they do not favor the idea of this bill replacing an entirely separate bill intended to grant them the sovereignty that they feel they lost in a 1980 settlement with the state.

Governor Mills worked with tribal leaders to ensure this bill expands their rights, with Maine tribes given fewer rights than all of the other 570 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. and given treatment as municipalities as opposed to the sovereign nations that they are.

A different bill that does grant such tribal sovereignty also just passed through Maine’s House of Representatives, but that bill does not receive the support of Governor Mills who prefers to use the sports betting bill to get that tricky job done.

This issue is one of the main reasons why legal sports betting has yet to come to Maine.

Maine Congress has Passed Sports betting Legislation but Governor Failed to Sign

For two years in a row, a sports betting bill has been introduced in Maine and has passed through one or both chambers of state congress, but none has made it all the way to becoming a law thanks to opposition from the governor as well as having to yield to other higher priorities.

Now that the worldwide pandemic has subsided, and Governor Mills has introduced this sports betting bill as a compromise to give state tribes more rights, expect it to get some serious discussion in the Senate next as it makes its way back to her desk for a signature.

Whether tribal interests can achieve their own sovereignty outside of this bill, a sports betting market in Maine makes financial sense to all parties involved, so keep checking back for all the news and updates of this unfolding story.

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