Lawmakers in Maine amend proposed online casino measure

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Maine lawmakers are looking to create economic opportunity for the state’s federally recognized tribes through an online casino bill.

Legislative Document 1777 is being considered in Maine as a piece of legislation that would authorize iGaming in the state exclusively through its Wabanaki tribal nations. LD 1777, which is sponsored by Rep. Laura D. Supica, Sen. Craig Hickman and others, was first introduced in 2023 before being carried over to the state’s current legislative session.

The measure was expected to receive a vote in January but was put on hold due to illegitimate bomb threats against several government facilities across America, including Maine’s capital building.  

LD 1777, which would delegate iGaming regulation by the Maine Gambling Control Unit (MGCO), first proposed a 10% tax rate before being amended in January to increase the rate to 16% following a 7-1 vote by the state’s Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs.

The remaining five votes in the committee have a March 4 deadline to be submitted.

On Thursday, LD 1777 was discussed once again in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee with more amendments passed by another 7-1 vote, including a different definition of iGaming. The amended definition includes blackjack, roulette, poker and other MGCO-approved games. Committee members also approved an amendment to allocate 1% of iGaming revenue to bolster racing at state-sanctioned tracks.

Driving profits for Maine tribes

LD 1777 would establish an additional stream of revenue for Maine tribes, which have struggled economically.

In 2022, a Harvard Kennedy School study found that the state’s tribes have only reported a 9% growth in per capita income since 1989. In comparison, other federally recognized tribes across America posted a 61% uptick in per capita income. Tribes in the Pine Tree State have suffered due to the 1980 Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act, which doesn’t consider tribes as sovereign nations.

If signed into law under its new amendments, LD 1777 calls for 3% of adjusted gross receipts generated from iGaming to be allocated toward the state’s E-9-1-1 fund, while 3% would be directed to its Opioid Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment Fund. Maine’s General Fund would receive 2% of adjusted receipts to cover administrative costs of the MGCO.

Another 4% would be given to the Gambling Addiction Prevention and Treatment Fund.

Under LD 1777, iGaming licenses in Maine are granted on a four-year basis at a cost of $200,000 with renewals having the same term length. The piece of legislation authorizes iGaming in the state for persons 21 years of age and older.

Differing stances on iGaming in Maine

LD 1777 has garnered support from both sides of the aisle in Maine with House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross and Senate President Troy Jackson voicing their support of iGaming.

However, Gov. Janet Mills has opposed the measure due to it providing state tribes with more control. Mills had also opposed sports betting before legalizing it in May 2022.

The Pine Tree State went live with sports betting last November and saw its operators accept $37.6 million in wagers during the month before paying out $32.7 million in winnings to players.