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Sports Betting Legalized In Maine

Maine became the latest state to legalize sports betting when Governor Janet Mills signed LD 585 into law. The move comes as somewhat of a surprise after Mills vetoed similar legislation in 2019. 

Sports Betting Legalized In Maine

Exciting legal gambling news is just in for Maine residents! Since the supreme court struck down the federal ban on sports betting in 2018, Maine legislators have tried multiple times to pass laws to legalize wagering on sporting events. The first attempt passed both chambers of the state government before being vetoed by Governor Janet Mills, while the second attempt simply stagnated. With Mills putting her signature on LD 585, the matter is officially settled. Bettors will be required to be at least 21 years of age in order to place wagers, and both online and retail sports books will be legal. Wagering will be allowed on professional, collegiate, and amatuer sporting events, however wagers on games involving any college team based in the state of Maine will not be permitted.

The major difference between the previous legislation and LD 585 is the fact that LD 585 is a larger package bill designed to offer various benefits to the state’s native tribes. It was widely speculated that Governor Mills would not have supported the legislation without the significant benefits awarded to the states tribes. After signing the bill, Mills said “This law provides meaningful economic opportunities for the Wabanaki Nations. It incentivizes investment in Tribal communities, and it formalizes a collaboration process on policy that sets the foundation for a stronger relationship in the future,”

The biggest win for tribal gaming operators is their exclusive access to online sports betting sites. The state’s current casinos and horse racing tracks will be allowed to operate retail sportsbooks, but only tribal gaming operators will be granted licenses to operate mobile and online sportsbooks. Tribes will be allowed to create their own online wagering platform or to partner with an existing national platform such as DraftKings or FanDuel.

Operators could potentially take wagers before the 2022 NFL season kicks off

Maine legislation goes into effect 90 days after the close of the legislative session, and the 2022 session ended on April 25. This means that it will be legal for operators to begin taking bets in late July. It is possible that operators will need additional time to prepare for the launch, but the timing opens the door for top bookmakers to begin taking bets before the 2022 NFL season begins, and they will be highly motivated to take advantage of the opportunity to do so.

In addition to a friendly timeframe, the new bill is also friendly to operators from a tax standpoint. Sports betting revenue will be taxed at 10%, which is in line with many other states, however rather than the tax being imposed on gross revenue, operators are allowed to deduct both federal excise taxes as well as promotional expenses from their taxable revenue. The licensing fees are very reasonable as well, with a four year retail license costing just $4,000, while a four-year online license will cost $200,000.

National operators the only losers

This new legislation is a big win for Maine sports bettors as well as the state’s tribes who have long had much less influence on the Maine gaming market than tribes in other states. Churchill Downs and Penn National Gaming however currently operate retail gaming establishments in Maine and had high hopes of having a piece of the lucrative online Maine sports betting marketplace. The two companies had strongly supported previous legislation that would have allowed them to do so, but it seems clear that any bill that didn’t grant tribes exclusivity over the online market would not have received approval from Governor Mills.

Maine joins New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island in allowing sports betting, leaving Massachusetts and Maine as the only states in New England to still prohibit sports betting. Massachusetts is inching towards joining in on the action as well. The law proves that even lawmakers who have had reservations in the past about legalizing sports betting can come around, and brings the country even closer to having sports betting legalized nationwide.

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