LD 553 flew through both chambers of the legislature this past week and appears poised to end up on Gov. Janet Mills desk for her final signature. Both Maine's House and Senate voted to legalize sports betting within the state on mobile devices and in brick-and-mortar casinos. Assuming the Governor signs the bill, Maine would become the 15th state in the U.S. to offer legal sports betting continuing the trend of states legalizing in the post-2018 US Supreme Court ruling that struck down the federal ban on sports wagering and allowed its legalization. Maine joins New Hampshire on the list of states with betting bills awaiting the governors signature for final approval. 2019 has picked up steam with several states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, New York, Tennessee, and Washington DC to have legalized some form of sports betting within the year.
How We Got Here
Let's chalk up Maine to one of those states that seemed to come out of nowhere. While interest was obviously apparent, most reports had no real progress being made as many bills came and went in the legislatures. But that all changed on the final day of the legislative session as Maine lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to approve LD 553 which will allow for sports betting in the state. Indications thus far are that the governor will sign the bill into law as it was not identified as a bill to be vetoed.
What It Includes
Overall, Maine's bill appears it will give the state one of the more attractive initial rollouts in comparison to some of the junk I have seen pushed out in recent months.
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Maine has broken from the recent mold and put out an attractive rollout that includes no league data mandates, no integrity fees, and relatively no fees and low taxes. It's good to see someone telling the leagues no and realizing they can offer a product without paying the leagues. The only thing I think is misplaced is the state having a ban on placing bets on in-state collegiate athletics.
The states licensing fee is a measly $2,000 (yes, there is not a zero missing). The tax rate is only 10% for retail locations and jumps to 16% for mobile-only operations. The licensing fee is the cheapest by a long shot and the tax rate will allow the state to offer a reasonably competitive product. House Rep. Scott Strom attributes the low licensing fee to providers already having various other licenses from casino, harness racing and such and this just adds sports betting. Whatever the reasoning I'm sure operators will take that small fee.
When Will It Be Available?
No official timetable exists as the governor has not even signed the bill into law. Assuming she signs, a sooner rather than later rollout could be in the state's future. The law would go into effect 90 days after the bill passed, so licenses could begin to be issued in late September assuming no major hangups. States want to do everything they can to be rolling for the busy football season.
On a side note, the state projects an initial $1.9 million revenue from sports betting to grow to $5.6 million by year four. The state should have a chance as they are rolling out with mobile betting initially and that has been a big revenue generator for states like New Jersey (who have had solid revenue numbers since they started).
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