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Maine sports betting legalization falls through

Written by:
Payton
Published on:
Feb/21/2020

Maine was hoping to see the changes in its existing betting regulations, with the preposition made during the 2020 legislative session that would have finally legalized sports betting in the state. The legislation wanted to allow Maine’s existing gambling facilities to partner up with third-party betting operations, creating thousands of opportunities for digital sportsbooks to get a license to operate in Maine. According to the current regulation, any gambling facility or a sports betting venue wanting to cater to Maine’s community has to be partnered up with a retail betting facility. Maine shares the regulations with two other states, Tennessee and Illinois.

The unexpected Veto

The betting community was already excited about the possibility of change because the proposal was originally sustained during the first hearing. But after the Governor Janet Mills vetoed the proposal, the House of Representatives failed to overturn the veto, leaving Maine among the other 31 states still operating on the outdated regulations around gambling.

The trend of more liberal politics towards gambling has been slowly picking up pace, having started back almost 2 years ago. While for the longest time gambling was only legal in very limited places, states have started to embrace sports bettings and their importance to not only the gambling community but the sports fans as well.

These days it’s hard to imagine a sports fan that either doesn’t place bets consistently or at least enjoys them every once in a while. It has become a universal addition to the sports community enhancing the fans connect with the teams because it allows them to feel more involved in the games. 

A missed opportunity

The regulatory refresh was long overdue and the Maines gambling community, among other states looking for the examples to follow, were once again left with resistance to change. 

According to the online gambling authority VegasSlotsOnline, with the now-rejected proposal, the licensing fees would have been only $2,000 making it the lowest rate in the country. This could have opened many doors for Maine to build on its current gambling business and increase profit as well as the state’s popularity. In Addition to that, the Main officials wanted to have the very appealing 10% tax rates for retail sportsbook revenues and 16% for digital revenues, which would have undoubtedly attracted big companies to do business in Maine, creating more jobs and delivering the best quality entertainment to the locals.

Many positive developments could have come out of this deal but the resistance from the Governor and the difference of opinion in the House of Representatives made this change impossible. There were a lot of mixed opinions all across the Senate, even the heated debates could not bring them together, which is why the bill that was supposed to pass without any complications because of such a sudden letdown for the gambling community as well as all the operators that were hoping to expand their market into an unexplored Main market.

 

Governor Mills was with the project since it was first initiated back in 2018. The procedures took more than a year, with a lot of bickering in the Senate. After the bill was finally approved, the mood in the Senate seemed quite positive and from the outside, it looked like Maine would finally move along with the bill and eventually pass it. The Governor also seemed on board until she pulled her veto card at the very last moment. 

In the comments made about the failed bill, the most official says that the main reason behind the unexpected veto is that the state does not have the right attributes and slowing down this process is essential for eventually proposing an update to regulation that will hold up for a long time. The final vote in the House of Representatives unfolded with 85 against and 57 for the bill.

Still hope for legalization this year

The senators who were in favor of this bill are now concerned that gambling venues will continue to do their business illegally, while they states get no taxes from their profit and customers are exposed to potentially dangerous situations since the state has no control over this area and won’t be able to protect them. While the governor insisted that the states that did legalize gambling did not see a big growth in their revenue, this legislation could have made things more orderly in Maine, following the similar changes that have been adapted in the other 21 states.

While the possibility of this bill getting approved late in the year hasn't disappeared, the gambling community is still disappointed with the outcome of this session. The legalization could have made the gambling scene much safer and profitable, could have attracted more investments and give Maine one more industry that it could market to tourists and visitors. Even the Mayor who vetoed the project said that the subject will remain relevant but probably it will take a bit more time for Maine to get to the set of regulations that will leave everyone happy and create a secure and profitable scene for all the Maine gambling lovers who have spent almost a year waiting for the favorable change in the regulations only to be left empty-handed at the beginning of the year.

The attitudes towards gambling are changing, and regulatory bodies all around the world are realizing that the more effective way to fight all the criminal activity or scamming that goes on in this industry is to create regulations that would enhance customer protection without completely diminishing the industry. Among the Maine officials, there are a lot of supporters of this bill, even if it ended up not passing this time around. Many members of the Senate who divided to vote against it highlighted that Maine was simply not ready for this change just yet and would need more time to adapt and perfect regulations. As the nationwide trend of legalizing gambling in states spread to the remaining states, as more states try to figure out a regulation that worked for them, Main may find an example of coming up with its own spin on the vetoes bill and eventually bite the bullet towards the end of the year.

 

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