In a serious discussion about a bill aiming to strengthen the relations between the state of Maine and its tribes, legalizing mobile sports betting for the four tribes in the state was also considered. On Wednesday, during a work session, the Judiciary Committee suggested an amendment LD 585, 8-6, aiming to introduce online sports betting.
The said bill is to allow the four tribes in the state to operate online sportsbooks, with the amendment also suggesting retail sports betting licenses for commercial gaming companies based in the Pine Tree State. Meanwhile, a separate sports betting bill in Maine has been approved by the state’s House twice but is currently stalled as it has not been approved by the Special Appropriations.
Tribal Online Sports Betting Just a Small Part of a Huge Tribal Package
In the initial bill, the off-track betting venues in Maine were granted retail sports betting licenses. With the latest amendment, the two horse racing tracks in Maine also received licenses. The recent adjustment of the bill is also considering issuing two additional licenses to OTBs or race tracks that may launch in the future.
The sports betting addition to the bill was not met with approval by some lawmakers. In addition, the two casinos operating in the state as well as the Sports Betting Alliance also did not support the sports betting amendment.
The tribes on the territory of Maine, however, approved of the recent bill, with the potential launch of online sports betting being a small part of a major tribal sovereignty package. Gov. Janet Mills also showed her support for the bill amendment which was introduced after several long discussions held by the Judiciary Committee.
The purpose of the new bill is to improve the relations between the Pine Tree State and its tribes, ensuring better tax legislation that would help the development of the economic welfare of the Maine tribes.
Disapproval of Tribal Online Sports Betting Bill as Main Bill Remains on Hold
The bill amendment was not well received by many lawmakers as they expressed concerns about the existing bettors being left out of mobile betting. According to Milton Champion, Executive Director of Maine Gambling Control Unit, regulated sports betting could bring the state an annual revenue of up to $6.9 million. Compared to the casino sector’s contribution of $60 million per year, this is a significantly smaller amount.
According to Champion, introducing tribal online sports betting will not have a big impact on the state’s welfare. State casinos agreed with the statement about sports betting having an insignificant contribution to the state’s revenue.
Meanwhile, the main sports betting bill in Maine remains on hold, with no signs of the bill receiving a green light from the governor any time soon. Lawmakers who did not approve of the LD 585 amendment said they would change their minds if the main LD 1352 bill is passed. On the other hand, some legislators believe that the legislation can be changed at a later point in time but passing the LD 585 would help the state achieve many of its goals for a gambling expansion.