Maine Sports Betting Proposal Moves to Final Votes

Maine Sports Betting Proposal Moves to Final Votes article feature image

Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images. Pictured: Maine Capitol Building

Maine lawmakers narrowly advanced a bill late Wednesday that would legalize retail and online sports betting under tribal control.

The measure—which cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on an 8-6 vote—is part of the a comprehensive package of expanded tribal rights, negotiated by Gov. Janet Mills (D).

It's scheduled for full-house votes some time in the next few weeks, but it likely faces a rigorous path as lawmakers consider alternative tribal reforms and amendments.

Mills is opposed to a separate larger expansion package endorsed by Maine’s four tribes. They spoke at the hearing Wednesday in support of both pieces of legislation.

Before advancing the bill, the Judiciary Committee held a lengthy discussion on an amendment that would give some retail licenses to commercial racing racks and a casinos.

Over 104 witnesses submitted testimony before the Wednesday hearing.

The Sports Betting Alliance, a lead lobbying group, spoke out against an amendment to cap the online market at four operators, making the case that fewer sportsbooks would hurt competition.

“Competitive pricing is a critical component of the public policy goal to eliminate the illegal market,” SBA said in written testimony.

Several versions and stand-alone amendments are circulating in the legislature, though only the original version is on file with the legislature.

It’s unclear which version will ultimately advance, and it remains possible that sports betting could become a casualty of so many different interests.

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