Maine’s sports close in on legalisation of mobile sports betting

Maine’s sports betting sector could get the green light in the coming months as the state’s lawmakers gave the legislation the initial approval for mobile sports betting. The initial approval passes the bill onto further procedural votes in both House and Senate.

Following yesterday’s vote in the Senate, members voted 19-15 and the House voted unanimously in favour of approving legislation that would permit individuals aged 21 or above in order to wager bets on professional and most collegiate sports across the state.

The bill purposes that bets can be places at both physical locations – including existing casinos or off-track betting parlours, as well as via mobile apps and online.

If permitted, the bill L.D 554, will add Maine to the fast-growing list of states which have legalised sports betting in the US following the Supreme Court decision to allow states to permit sports betting last year.

Conditions of the legislation will mean that licensed ‘Brick and mortar’ facilities would face a 10 per cent tax rate while mobile-only platform operators would pay 16 per cent tax on their revenues.

There has been little opposition to the bill so far, although this may be due to Maine’s casinos and online platform operators lobbying for different versions of the legislation.

An area of contention for the bill relates to whether or not mobile betting operators should be ‘tethered’ to licensees with a physical facility in the Pine Tree state. Those in favour of tethering have previously argued that doing so would help support existing gambling-related businesses that hire Main workers and pay local property taxes.

However, the vast majority of committee members have opted for an untethered licence, with Bill sponsor, Sen. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, commenting that not tethering mobile operators to a brick-and-mortar licensee is more of a “free market” approach.

Luchini, co-chairman of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee said:“To me it’s a strange way to write a law that would require a new business to come into Maine only if they tether their license to an existing business.

“We don’t require Amazon to tether to existing grocery stores and we don’t require Airbnb to tether to hotels.”

The bill would allow 11 entities to apply for on-premise sports betting licenses: Hollywood Casino in Bangor and Oxford Casino; Scarborough Downs racetrack; the four off-track betting locations in Brunswick, Sanford, Lewiston and Waterville; and the state’s four Native American tribes.

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