New Proposal Makes Online Sports Betting In Maine A Possibility

Written By Frank Weber on March 9, 2022
Maine Sports Betting Becomes A Possibility

Two years ago, Maine Governor Janet Mills vetoed a sports betting bill. This year, it seems like she’s changed her tune.

The governor’s administration is putting together a series of changes that would overhaul the state’s taxation and gambling laws.

Included in that overhaul would be the legalization of sports betting offered by the state’s Wabanaki Nations tribes.

Per an op-ed written by Jerry Reid, chief legal counsel for Gov. Mills:

“And on gaming, we have identified online sports betting … as an avenue to fulfill the Tribes’ desire for gaming opportunities while avoiding the issues associated with building new casinos. We are now working together on legislation that would make the Tribes, rather than out-of-state corporate gaming interests, the primary beneficiary of online sports wagering in Maine.”

Reid points to a bill that would pave the way for state Tribes to run gaming

What makes Reid’s column so jolting is that the current proposed sports-betting legislation on the books in Augusta, LD 1352, proposes sports betting but doesn’t make it exclusive to the tribe. The House and Senate passed the bill in last year’s legislative session, but the bill stalled and didn’t make it to the governor’s desk by the end of the session.

At some point, it would seem, the text of the bill will change to accommodate the deal that the Wabanaki and governor’s office is negotiating.

The exclusivity clause for sports betting falls in line with what Reid had originally written. This creates a three-pronged approach to changes he hopes will strengthen tribal communities:

  • Create a new process through which the state and tribes can make decisions together
  • Revise tax laws
  • Allow tribal exclusivity over sports betting “in a manner that is fair and creates no risks for non-tribal communities

“Our negotiations remain ongoing, and we are working toward finalizing legislative language that could be enacted this session, but today I want to extend my gratitude to the Wabanaki Nations and their representatives for their willingness to engage in this process for the past seven months,” Reid wrote. “If we succeed, this bill would make the most significant reforms in tribal-state relations in the past 40 years.”

Tribal exclusivity worked in Florida … for two weeks

Should the sports betting bill pass, it would make Maine quite similar to the sports betting environment in Florida. There, sports betting went live for two weeks in November, before it shut down. The Seminole Tribe of Florida was the state’s exclusive sports betting operator. They were partnering with Hard Rock Digital to offer a mobile sports betting app.

However, it faced stiff opposition from heavyweights like FanDuel and DraftKings, who partnered to propose an amendment to the state constitution that would allow, over time, nontribal companies to operate sports betting in the Sunshine State.

In addition to the outofstate competition, the Seminole Tribe faced a legal battle over its mobile sports betting model. It’s a battle that the tribe ultimately lost, ending mobile sports betting almost as quickly as it started.

Photo by
Frank Weber Avatar
Written by
Frank Weber

View all posts by Frank Weber