This is a developing story and BettingUSA will provide updates here as more becomes known.

Update: The Maine House failed to override Governor Mills’ veto of sports betting legislation. Ryan Butler, who has been following the progress of this bill, reports the House voted 85-57 to override the veto, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the bill into law.

In a surprise development Thursday morning, the Maine Senate voted to override Governor Janet Mills’ veto of a sports betting bill that was approved by the legislature last June.

According to Bangor Daily News, the Senate voted 20-10 to override the veto. This was just one vote over the two-thirds majority needed to override a governor’s veto. The House may hold a vote on the bill as early as next week.

As Ryan Butler noted on Twitter this morning, the bill has a good chance to receive a similar vote in the House to fully override the veto and pass LD 553 into law:

What Mobile Sports Betting Would Look Like in Maine

The proposed sports betting law sets the stage for a competitive online sports betting market in Maine. Most notably, the bill does not require mobile operators to be tethered to existing casinos or racetracks in order to be licensed as is the case in other states.

In New Jersey and Indiana, for example, operators such as DraftKings and PointsBet are required to partner with land-based casinos for market access. That will not be the case in Maine.

Instead, Maine is taking a free market approach. Mobile operators that qualify as “qualified gaming entities” may apply for sports betting licenses without partnering with local casinos or racetracks. LD 553 defines qualified gaming entities as follows:

“…a gaming entity that offers sports wagering through mobile applications or digital platforms in any jurisdiction in the United States pursuant to a state regulatory structure.”

Commercial racetracks, off-track betting facilities (OTBs), casinos and federally recognized Indian tribes will also be allowed to apply for mobile sports betting licenses.

Other key points from the law:

  • $20,000 mobile betting license fee
  • 16% mobile betting tax rate
  • Minimum age of 21 to bet on sports
  • Wagers on professional sports, athletic sports, amateur sports and esports are allowed
  • Wagers on high school events, events where a majority of participants are under 18 and on events involving Maine colleges are prohibited

Tax revenue generated by mobile sports betting is to be distributed as follows:

  • 1% to fund the Gambling Control Unit
  • 1% to fund the Gambling Addiction Prevention and Treatment Fund
  • 14% to the state’s General Fund

Retail Sportsbooks Also Authorized

LD 553 also authorizes the construction of retail sportsbooks at commercial racetracks, OTBs, casinos and on the lands of Indian tribes that acquire sports betting licenses.

The law establishes a very reasonable initial licensing fee of $2,000 for retail sportsbooks and sets a tax rate of 10%. Tax revenue will be distributed as follows:

  • 1% to fund the Gambling Control Unit
  • 1% to fund the Gambling Addiction Prevention and Treatment Fund
  • 8% to the state’s General Fund

What Would Have Happened Next

If the House had followed the lead of the Senate and overrode the veto, LD 553 would have become law. In that case, the Director of the Gambling Control Unit would have been tasked with drawing up additional rules and regulations and approving operators.

LD 553 orders the Director to “adopt rules governing the conduct of sports wagering in the State, which much, at a minimum, include the following:”

  • Qualifications for issuing sports betting licenses
  • Rules regarding the types of wagers accepted, use of credit and checks, prevention of wagers on prohibited events, promotion of responsible gaming and the display of information on resources for problem gambling at retail sportsbooks and on mobile betting platforms
  • Whether or not to set a maximum allowed wager
  • Standards for the adoption of house rules implemented by operators
  • Minimum design and security standards for retail sportsbooks and online betting platforms
  • Types of interested parties, including sports teams or league employees, who should be prohibited from placing wagers
  • Minimum accounting, financial and recordkeeping standards

Maine Would Have Joined Nearby States with Legal Sports Betting

Mobile betting powered by DraftKings went live just across the border in New Hampshire last month and Rhode Island has had mobile betting in place since September. Connecticut and Vermont have also flirted with the idea as recently as last year.

Rep. Scott Strom, one of the sponsors of LD 553, recently urged Governor Mills to allow the bill to become law in a guest column published by the Bangor Daily News. Rep. Strom noted neighboring New Hampshire’s recent launch of sports betting and added that legalization is the best way to shut down the illegal offshore market.

The bill sitting on the governor’s desk creates a framework that ensures all regulated sportsbook operators conducting business in Maine will do so in a responsible manner that protects Mainers while delivering an enjoyable, first-class experience that incentivizes individuals to leave the illegal market. Only the most qualified sportsbook operators will be able to enter the regulated Maine market, and they will be held to the highest advertising and responsible gaming standards.

By looking to other states that have gone live with regulated sports wagering, one theme is clear: If we are serious about putting an end to the illegal market, then mobile sports wagering is critical. Nearly 85 percent of sports wagering activity in New Jersey and Pennsylvania takes place online, and this trend is consistent among other states that have recently begun regulating sports wagering.

The Road to Legalizing Sports Betting in Maine

LD 553 first popped up on the radar in January 2019 and made its way through successful votes in the House and Senate. The bill seemed to be on its way to becoming law after as of June 2019, but Governor Janet Mills opted to neither sign nor veto LD 553 outright.

The Maine sports betting bill was just one of dozens of bills held by the Governor. In a statement issued last July, Governor Mills explained:

The Legislature has passed a significant number of bills this session, and I take seriously my constitutional obligation to thoroughly review all of them, evaluate their implications, and decide whether they are in the best interest of Maine people.

In order to meet that responsibility, I will continue to review these bills and gather more information, and I look forward to acting on them at the beginning of the next legislative session.

Governor Mills’ decision not to sign LD 553 last year pushed the bill over into the 2020 legislative session, which began on January 8th. This began a three-day period in which Governor Mills could either sign the bill into law, veto it or allow it to pass into law without her signature.

Governor Mills ultimately decided to veto the bill. The Senate was able to override the veto, but the House was unable to muster up a two-thirds majority. Maine will not get sports betting this time around after all.

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