Maine Sports Betting On Hold As Legislature Adjourns

Written By Kim Yuhl on November 16, 2021 - Last Updated on January 28, 2022
Sports betting in Maine is on hold as legislature adjourns.

The Maine Sports Betting Commission has decided to postpone its regularly scheduled operations for at least another year.

State lawmakers adjourned the 2021 legislative session in July without sports betting legislation legalized. And thus, Maine sports betting efforts will not resume until next year’s session.

ME sports betting – what happened?

Maine Senate Bill LD1352 was approved twice and sent to the Appropriations Committee in July of 2021. But the bill appears to have stalled there.

According to local sources, Sen. Louis Luchini, the bill’s sponsor, would not fully support it due to the requirement for tethering. It is because of the requirement to partner with local gambling outlets that Luchini publicly opposed the final bill.

Luchini stated in June that tethering hurts his constituents. Tethering, he claimed, is anti-competitive. A casino would be the gatekeeper of who could operate in Maine under the bill. But lawmakers did indeed pass the bill with tethering intact.

The Zoom effect

The biggest reason the 2021 effort failed, according to Milton Champion,  executive director of the Maine Gambling Control Unit, was the lack of in-person meetings. While we can’t blame the failure entirely on video meetings, he states that the virtual meetings lacked “punch” and that no one could quite shake the lack of interest, apparently caused by the pandemic.

However, Milton believes that 2022 will be a positive year after indicating the remedy of some “issues.” He thinks that it’s a matter of when, not if, that Maine sports betting will be up and running again regularly, likening the situation to a statue that you’re gradually chipping away to reveal.

Maine’s gambling future unresolved

The future could be somewhat murky for ME sports betting.

However, despite pandemic restrictions significantly lightening for much of the state, the issue of tethering will not just disappear.

Penn National, one of the leading local casino lobbyists, strongly supports tethering. Penn said last year that it was only favorable towards those who had “invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the state.”

This debate is all taking place before a bill even passed before Gov. Mills, who has in the past vetoed bills involving sports betting.

Maine tax revenues take a hit

In the meantime, however, Maine’s loss is New Hampshire’s gain as sports fan gamblers will be placing their bets across the state border in NH, at least for the rest of the year.

The decision to postpone is particularly disheartening since other New England states are moving forward with betting as originally planned. MA and CT have both moved forward with sports betting legislation and legalization.

Photo by Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Kim Yuhl Avatar
Written by
Kim Yuhl

View all posts by Kim Yuhl