Lawmaker’s Departure Could Clear Path To Sports Betting Passage

Written By Matthew Kredell on January 31, 2022
Hope for legal sports betting in Maine with lawmaker's resignation

Maine’s champion for sports betting legislation resigned last week, but his absence could help his bill reach the finish line.

As the past few years have shown, little makes sense when it comes to legalizing sports betting in Maine.

Sen. Louis Luchini voted against his bill last year on the Senate floor, yet it passed anyway. After LD 1352 passed the House, he successfully lobbied his colleagues to hold the bill in legislative limbo.

Even though it was passed by both legislative chambers, bills with financial aspects make a pit stop in the Appropriations Committee for a final check before heading to the governor’s desk. Through a parliamentary move, the committee never advanced the bill, which carried over to this year.

Last week, Luchini resigned from his office to take a position with the federal Small Business Administration.

Penn National Gaming (PNG), which operates one of the two commercial casinos in the state, believes his departure could make it easier to get the bill released by the committee and sent to the governor.

Eric Schippers, senior vice president for PNG said:

“He had been a major barrier for any movement because he didn’t like the tethered model. We’re hoping with Sen. Luchini gone, that will remove some of the obstacles to getting this thing done.”

The tethering issue in Maine

As introduced, Luchini’s bill would have allowed Maine’s two commercial casinos, one racetrack, five off-track betting parlors, and five Indian tribes to have retail sportsbooks and one online betting partner each.

But it also allowed online sports betting companies to operate in the state without a partner.

A last-minute amendment required operators to tether to one of the physical gaming properties in the state. This caused Luchini to take the rare step of arguing against his bill.

The local casinos who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the state are pro-tethering. Online sports betting companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel would like untethered entry, though it’s unclear how much they care.

Maine has a small population and they’ll have enough opportunities for access.

Sources say Luchini told colleagues that they should hold the bill in the committee because Gov. Janet Mills wouldn’t sign it. Mills vetoed his sports betting legislation in 2020.

Additional details of Maine sports betting bill

If it’s released this year, LD 1352 could create up to 13 retail sportsbooks and mobile sports betting apps in the state.

Other key details include:

  • The Maine Gambling Control Unit within the Department of Public Safety would regulate sports betting.
  • Prohibits wagering on Maine college teams, regardless of where the game is played.
  • Allows wagering on professional sports, college sports outside of Maine teams, Olympic competition and esports.
  • Operators pay a tiered tax rate of 16% of adjusted gross receipts for online wagering and 10% for in-person bets.
  • A license fee of $100,000 for two years.

What’s next for Maine sports betting effort

Luchini’s departure doesn’t guarantee there is the political will for the committee to release the sports betting bill.

But New England neighbors New Hampshire and Connecticut have legal sports betting, and Maine has been sitting on the issue since 2019.

Penn believes Gov. Mills wouldn’t stand in the way of the bill at this point, but it’s not a sure thing.

Maine could move on the bill any time between now and the legislative session’s conclusion on April 20.

“We’re reaching out now to the governor’s office and legislature to see if we can re-spark discussions,” Schippers said. “In most states, there’s a lot of focus on redistricting, budget issues and Covid, so we’re trying to find out where it may fall in order of priorities to see what the timing may look like.”

Photo by create jobs 51 / Shutterstock
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Matthew Kredell

Matthew has covered efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling since 2007. His reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. A USC journalism alum, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News and has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and

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