Maine Governor Janet Mills signs bill to authorize tribes to run mobile sportsbooks
May 4, 2022
After years of waiting, sports betting has finally become legal in Maine. Governor Janet Mills has signed a bill that allows for the establishment of mobile and retail sportsbooks in the state. This new market gives tribes exclusive control over the online portion of the sports betting industry.
The bill provides the Wabanaki Nations with an opportunity to invest in their communities. It also facilitates a collaboration process that will help strengthen the relationship between the state and tribal nations.
"This law provides meaningful economic opportunities for the Wabanaki Nations. It incentivizes investment in Tribal communities, and it formalizes a collaboration process on policy that sets the foundation for a stronger relationship in the future," Mills said.
The law will take effect 90 days following the legislative session, which concluded on April 25. It allows sports betting to start in late July or early August, which would enable the state to collect millions of dollars in revenue.
Aside from giving tribes exclusive control over establishing sports betting in the state, the bill also provides a framework for collaboration between the state and tribal nations. In late April, the Senate passed the bill with a 23-11 vote.
More operational control
Despite the positive effects of the bill, it is not considered a replacement for a comprehensive sovereignty measure that would have given the state's tribes more control over their operations.
Instead, the governor opted not to support a separate bill that would have granted greater autonomy to the tribes. The chiefs of the Wabanaki Nations said last week that they will continue to push for permanent sovereignty restoration.
The law allows the three federally recognized tribes in the state to get licensed and start their own mobile sports betting operations. It is estimated that mobile betting will account for around 85% percent of the market.
There are currently 10 retail licenses available to establish sports betting in the state. One of these is for the Oxford Casino, which was initially proposed to be shut down.
Sports betting in the state will be taxed at a rate of 10 percent, but it won't be charged on gross revenue. Mobile operators can deduct both federal taxes and promotional fees from their winnings. Retail licenses are also cheaper at around $4,000.
To be considered a legal sports gambler in the state, individuals must be 21 years old and physically reside in Maine. They can also bet on amateur and professional games.
Opportunity for redemption
In a statement, Governor Mills praised the efforts of the state and the Wabanaki Nations in drafting the bill, which he said was made possible through honest discussions and negotiations. She also noted that the state will continue working with the tribes to improve their relationship.
"I am proud of the work that the Wabanaki Nations and the State put into drafting this legislation, and I am grateful for the honest effort, the extensive research and the hundreds of hours of negotiations and discussions which bore fruit in this bill," Mills said. "We will continue to work closely with the Tribes to make progress for the Wabanaki people."
The bill was also viewed as an opportunity for the state to correct its mistakes regarding the operations of the tribes. On top of that, the state will regain control over the tribes' operations since they were required to abide by similar regulations in other states.
This is the first step in addressing the issue of tribal gaming in the state.