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Maine sports betting bill fails as Governor veto sustained


Maine looks set to remain without legal sports betting for the foreseeable future after the House sustained Governor Janet Mills’s veto of a bill seeking to permit sports wagering in the state.

The House was asked to vote when faced with the question: “Shall this Bill become a law notwithstanding the objections of the Governor?” Though the House voted 85-57 for the bill to progress, it did not secure the two-thirds vote required in order to pass.

The vote, which took place with one excused, two vacant and seven being absent, means the veto was sustained and the bill will now not become law. Legislative Document 553 is now listed as ‘DEAD’ by the State of Maine Legislature.

Last week, Maine’s Senate voted 20-10 in favour of overriding the veto, and if the House had voted the same, it was likely that the bill would have progressed and come into law, despite the concerns of the Governor.

Mills vetoed the bill in January, saying that the people of Maine are not ready for sports betting. Mills praised the bill’s intention in bringing sports betting away from the black market, but did not believe such a bill at this time was the will of the Maine people.

The Governor said that she would rather see Maine examine the successes and failings of legal sports wagering elsewhere in the US before a bill was passed in Maine.

Mills also outlined concerns that the bill would not do enough to prevent young people being exposed to gambling through advertising. She acknowledged that mobile sportsbook operators were able to employ sophisticated mechanisms to detect problem gamblers and underage play.

LD 553 was first filed by Senator Louis Lucchini in January 2019 and progressed through the House and Senate, unanimously and by a 19-15 vote, respectively.

However, it remained on the governor’s desk for more than six months due to a clause in Maine’s constitution. Under Article IV, Part III, the Governor does not need to sign or veto a bill passed at the end of a session until 10 working days after the start of the next one.

If Mills had not vetoed the bill, it would have automatically passed into law.

Had the bill become law, sports betting would have been opened to Maine’s land-based gaming venues such as commercial racetracks, off-track betting facilities, and commercial and tribal casinos.

LD 553 would have also allowed mobile operators to apply for licenses without the need for a land-based partner in the state. Land-based licensees would be taxed on 10% of sports wagering revenue, with mobile subject to a 16% tax rate.