- A bill to legalize online sports betting for Maine tribes was passed by the Senate last night
- Three tribes will control online sports betting
- Retail sports betting will be allowed in casinos and off-track betting establishments
Maine sports betting is finally becoming a reality. As Maine’s legislative session winds down, the Senate passed a bill last Tuesday night that gives three state tribes exclusivity over online sports betting.
The Senate approved bill LD 585 by a 23-11 vote, according to the Bangor Daily News. The measure will give the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Maliseet Tribes exclusive control over online sports betting in the state and will also legalize retail sports betting for state casinos and off-track betting establishments. Each tribe can partner with up to one online sportsbook operator.
Maine Tribes Will Control Sports Betting
Gov. Janet Mills is now expected to sign the bill into law.
The tribes will control an estimated 85% of the sports betting market in the state, as online sports betting compromises the vast majority of all sports betting markets. The bill also includes concessions to the tribes, such as tax relief, and consultation rights with the state for issues that would directly affect their affairs.
The original version of the bill did not include retail sports betting for Maine casinos, shutting out the establishments from the market altogether. However, representatives from Penn National Gaming (Barstool Sportsbook), which owns a casino in Bangor, led a charge to amend the bill. Legislators relented and allowed wording into the document that included retail sports betting, but no online sports betting, for the casinos and off-track betting establishments.
Maine Sports Betting Long Time Coming
Last year, Maine legislators approved bill LD 1352, which would have legalized statewide in-person and online sports betting. However, it was never brought to Mills for a signature and it never became law. The bill had a strange journey to approval, as its original sponsor Senator Louis Luchini (D-7) actually spoke up in the 2021 session and asked that legislators vote his bill down. Luchini originally wrote his bill as not having a tethering requirement for online sports betting, which became a controversial point of the betting plan.
Luchini’s original draft of the bill proposed a Maine sports betting plan that would open the state to an uncapped amount of online sports betting licenses that would not have to be tethered or partnered to a brick-and-mortar facility.
Tethering is “anti-competitive and anti-free market,” he explained last year.