Maine Senate approved Tuesday LD585, the bill which will legalize sports betting in the state and hand the state’s tribes exclusive monopoly for mobile sports betting, confining commercial casinos to retail sportsbooks only.
Mobile Sports Betting to the Tribes
Following the Senate vote, LD585 will be directed towards the desk of Gov. Janet Mills to be signed into law and considering the support expressed for the measure by the governor so far, her signature on the bill should be only a formality.
The bill provides for up to four online sports betting licenses and each of Maine’s native Indian tribes, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Micmac, and Maliseet, is entitled to one of the permits. As there are no federal compacts with the state, tribal sports betting will not be reliant on approval from the US Department of the Interior.
LD585 will allow commercial casinos, The Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway and Oxford Casino Hotel and their respective partners, Penn National/Barstool Sports and Churchill Downs Incorporated, to apply for licenses for retail sports betting only.
Earlier in the month when it became clear the state is about to reach a compromise with the tribes, there was a significant pushback against the bill and the exclusivity to online sports betting it gives to the tribes. According to estimates, Maine’s online sports betting market holds 85% of the total betting market in the state and left out of this bigger portion of the market, casinos were not happy.
Opposition to the Bill and Compromise Bill
Several legislators among which Senator Joe Baldacci, a public figure entirely dedicated to the wellbeing of the local community and the greater Bangor region and chair of the Bangor City Council’s Infrastructure Committee attempted to roll out an opposing sports betting.
The bill, which already gathered approval in the legislature last year, will allow both the tribes and casinos to apply for mobile sports betting licenses while also guaranteeing 6% of gross mobile revenue to the tribes to alleviate their fears that they will be at a disadvantage to commercial casinos.
Baldacci is also one of the strongest allies of Hollywood Casino and the bill he proposed met strong opposition from the tribes. On behalf of the Penobscot Nation tribe, Chief Kirk Francis called the compromise bill an attempt to hand Maine’s mobile sports betting to Hollywood Casino’s parent.
Under LD585, mobile sports betting licensees will pay a 10% tax on gaming revenue annually and $200,000 every four years to renew their licenses. Commercial partners to tribal operations will be subjected to $40,000 every four years. Retail sports betting will require a licensing fee of $4,000 and will also be renewed on a four-year basis.