Maine is closer than ever to bringing legalized sports betting to its residents as lawmakers approved a bill on Tuesday that would allow bettors 21 years old and older in Maine legal sports betting opportunities at licensed operators, including both traditional brick-and-mortar locations as well as online offerings.
The bill, L.D. 553, was passed in the Senate 19-15, and later unanimously in the House, which leaves Maine on the verge of becoming yet another state to legalize sports betting after the Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting by overturning PAPSA in May 2018.
Lawmakers finalized perfunctory procedural votes in both the House and Senate Wednesday, and the bill will soon be sent to Governor Janet Mills’ desk for final approval, where it will very likely be signed into law.
Maine’s sports betting bill will let the state’s bettors legally gamble on professional as well as most collegiate sporting events.
Under the new law, bettors would be prohibited from wagering on any athletic event in which any Maine college team participates, regardless of where the sporting event takes place. Other than that, full-fledged sports betting would be allowed for all other college and professional sports action.
Additionally, the bill sets two different tax rates, 10% for gross sports betting revenue at onsite sportsbook operations and 16% for online wagering.
The Department of Public Safety’s Gambling Control Unit (GCU) would provide regulatory oversight.
According to recent reports, at least $9 billion, and probably closer to $10 billion, has been bet on legally on sports over the past year in the U.S. That number is expected to continue to grow as more states begin the process to legalize sports betting.
Nevada remains (for now) the largest sports betting market, but New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, Rhode Island, New Mexico and Pennsylvania are all also taking bets now, and it seems likely that overall revenue will continue to grow as the relatively new sports betting markets continue to mature. New Jersey in particular has been a big winner, garnering more than $3 billion in bets in only 12 months.
However, some states are finding the expected tax revenues generated by sports betting has been smaller than originally anticipated.
In fact, according to a report by the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, states with legalized online sports gambling, such as New Jersey and Nevada, have taken the bulk of the revenues. The Garden State sees more than 80 percent of its wagers via the Internet, and states without robust online markets are at a major disadvantage.
The latest wave of sports betting adaptors, including Maine, have largely avoided this pitfall.
Seven of the eight state legislatures to approve sports betting this year have included mobile and online provisions. Lawmakers in Iowa, Indiana, Tennessee, Colorado, New Hampshire, Illinois as well as Maine all approved bills with wide-ranging mobile options. Montana, the first state to approve a bill in 2019, was the lone exception.
Maine’s progress is just the latest big move for the national industry, one that seems poised to only help it expand further.