In the United States, sports betting is a booming industry. The market has erupted in several states over the past few years and even more look to get into the action this year. Maine is one such state that has been considering the legalization of sports betting in 2021. In the beginning, four separate bills were on the table, but now only one remains. Will it have enough support to move forward?
Three Bills Rejected
This past Friday, the Legislature Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs decided to reject three bills that would legalize the industry in Maine. The decision to narrow down the options to just one bill came after members of the committee reached an agreement to work on a bill introduced by Senator Louis Luchini.
The goal is to provide a measure that everyone agrees on and one that will be signed into law by Governor Janet Mills. Early last year, the governor rejected a measure that was approved by Legislature, putting Maine even further behind neighboring states when it comes to sports betting.
At the time, Mills felt the measure introduced was good, but residents were not ready to legalize the industry. The governor was also worried that the bill did not have provisions in place to ensure that underage individuals would be unable to access the sports betting services.
Lawmakers have a focus of offering a bill that will appeal to the Governor. She is worried that commercials and online advertising will target the younger demographic in both the sports betting and daily fantasy sports sector.
According to Luchini, lawmakers in the state plan to work together to create a law that will provide protections for children. Luchini says that the industry cannot be marketed towards kids. He recognizes that it is a big issue for the governor and rightfully so.
Another factor up for consideration is if online sports betting should be connected to a land-based casino or pari-mutuel property. This is a concession that the Hollywood Casino and Oxford Casino want to see take place.
For Luchini, he is more focused on an untethered model. This would allow company’s to apply for licensing to offer mobile sports betting despite not being partnered with a land-based facility. He likes a free-market approach and is not looking to set up sports betting in order for the casinos to make more money. The overall goal is to ensure that players have the best options in the state, with something that works for everyone.
The casinos feel that setting up a free market would be detrimental to the industry. The operators do not see it as a positive and say that it will cause issues within the new market.
Early on, the sports betting bill created by Luchini suggested that operators of online sportsbooks pay $20,000 annually to offer services. For casinos, there is a tax benefit included in the measure. Pari-mutuels, the Oxford, or Hollywood can offer land-based sports betting and only be taxed at 10%.
The online rate is much higher at 16%. It is estimated that Maine could bring in $5 million each year from tax payments.