Maine’s sports betting sector could get the green light in the coming months after the state’s lawmakers gave the legislation the initial approval, passing the bill on to further procedural votes in both the 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 to wager bets on professional and most collegiate sports across the state.

The bill proposes that bets could be placed at both physical locations, including existing casinos or off-track betting parlors, as well as via mobile apps and online.  

If permitted, the bill L.D. 553, would add Maine to the fast-growing list of states which have legalized sports betting in the US following the Supreme Court decision to allow states to permit sports betting last year.

Conditions of the legislation would mean that licensed ‘brick and mortar’ facilities would face a ten per cent tax rate while mobile-only platform operators would pay 16 percent 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 Maine 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.

“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,” said Luchini, co-chairman of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee that worked on the sports betting bill.

“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.