Despite a flurry of intense lobbying last week, the state of Maine will have to wait for at least another year to land another opportunity to legalize sports betting. Governor Janet Mills’ recent push back on bill LD 553 stands firm, with supporters of legal sports wagering falling short in a House vote on Tuesday to overturn the veto.
In what is widely being viewed as a win for the state’s two casinos, Mills’ veto remains in place by a margin of 10 votes. The final House vote tally showed 85 vs 57 were in favor of the bill, not enough to make the two-thirds majority needed to overturn her decision.
Hopes had been raised last week when the Senate returned a surprise 20 vs 10 vote against Mills, the first time the Governor has seen a veto of hers challenged.
For Maine’s two casinos, the decision to delay any introduction of legalized sports wagering will likely be welcomed. Bill LD 553 contained provisions for sports betting to be made available state-wide on mobile, online and in terrestrial casinos. That would have facilitated market entry from some big new competitors.
Proponents of the bill will now have to return to the drawing board and prepare enabling legislation that will inevitably be a watered down version of LD 553. Mills’ view was that the bill was a ‘good effort’, but lacked understanding of the experiences of other states. She also questioned whether Maine’s residents were ready to legalize, support, endorse and promote betting on athletic events.
Commentary: In the case of legalizing sports betting in Maine, Governor Janet Mills seems to have taken a leaf out of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s book. This lady’s not for turning! That, however, is where any similarities end. Looking at some of the rationale behind her sports betting veto reveals a demeanor that’s more schoolma’am than Iron Lady. Much like an end of term school report, her verdict on LD 553 might as well read: “Good effort, but must try harder.”