Maine regulated bookmakers are back under debate in state legislation. Two years after Governor Janet Mills vetoed the Sports Betting Act, lawmakers made four betting proposals. However, four laws - three from the House of Representatives and one in the Senate - represent two different models of regulation. In addition, it is still unclear whether the governor's position on Maine regulated bookmakers has evolved.
What are the plans for Maine Bookmakers?
When she vetoed the Maine bookmaker regulation for two years, Governor Mills was "unconvinced at the time" that the Mainers wanted more gambling. Whether COVID - 19 and the accompanying decline in state revenues influenced its situation is unclear. The act it vetoed did not tie the sports betting license to existing casinos or parimutuel harness tracks.
Deciding whether to tie the licenses to your existing gaming infrastructure is a key difference between the two plans put in place. LD 1352, sponsored by Senator Louis Luchini (D-Ellsworth), associates of LD 1527, introduced by representative Tim Roche (R-Wells). Their plan creates an open market for mobile and online sports betting operators. It's similar to the one vetoed two years ago in that it doesn't bind the license.
Conversely, the opposite model associates future Maine bookmakers with a casino, racetrack, Native American Tribe or OTB. Senator Joseph Baldacci (D-Bangor) introduced LD 1404 limiting the licenses to existing land-based gambling operations. Likewise, Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) proposed LD 1405. Senator Jackson's bill, however, differs from Maine bookmakers in how the revenue is spent.
Maine betting accounts are similar
All four accounts agree on most details, with the exception of tethering licenses to existing facilities. Each proposal includes:
- A tax 20% on revenues from mobile betting.
- A 19% tax on all personal sports bets with licensed retail bookmakers.
- License fees in the amount of 20, 04 for Internet operators.
- Royalties of $ 2.04 for retail Maine bookmakers.
- Licenses are good for two years.
- No sports betting at state colleges.
Although the tax rates are in line with similar states, the license fees are particularly low. It is possible that as legislative proposals move through the legislative process, amendments increase upfront costs.
Apart from the link between the laws, there are other differences, but they are minimal. Provisions such as requiring personal registration or prohibiting the advertising of minors do not break the deal.
What is the difference between tethered and not tethered licenses?
So regulating Maine bookmakers will require consensus to be reached as to whether or not to tie them to existing locations. A governor may be more prone to tying operator accounts to a predetermined entity in Maine. The Indian tribes of Maine are now looking to build more casinos. A new casino with a retail bookmaker would be more profitable if the tribes could also offer mobile betting.
And this is the crux of the dispute: who is using the Maine bookmakers? With license tethering, only companies that have currently invested in Maine benefit from mobile betting. So these operators like Penn National are lobbying for the tethered model. Penn National pointed to illegal conduct in the free mobile market in Tennessee as a reason to bind licenses with terrestrial operators.
However, supporters of the second model argue that the market should dictate winners and losers, not the government. And the operators of mobile bookmakers themselves have a powerful lobbying weapon.
Until Mills' government makes a decision, the future of Maine regulated bookmakers will remain unclear. Legislative session 2021 is already underway, so the debate about bookmakers has to compete with other relevant issues. Companies that have already started operations in Maine will seek to support the tether model. But outsiders will be in favor of market-driven, unlimited regulation. A possible trade-off is to prioritize existing terrestrial gaming locations before offering outsiders their own licenses.