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Oct 2, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; A view of the Betting Area sign at Pimlico Race Course. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Several potential bills to legalize Maine sports betting were discussed last week by Maine lawmakers in the Senate Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs.

While no formal action was taken on any of the bills discussed, members of the committee said the testimony presented during the session would help shape future legislation in a work session.

Untethered Maine Online Sports Betting

One bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Louis Luchini (D-7), would effectively open the state to an uncapped amount of online sports betting licenses which would not have to be tethered or partnered to a brick-and-mortar facility. LD 1352 would allow Maine to be the third untethered sports betting state in the country, behind Tennessee and Wyoming.

An untethered license would allow a mobile sports betting platform to operate in the state without first partnering with a brick-and-mortar Maine casino. Interested Maine online sports betting operators would pay an initial online sports license fee of $20,000.

The bill set a 16% tax rate on online sports betting and a 10% rate for in-person facilities.

The committee heard testimony from a number of industry representatives, many of whom expressed support for bill LD 1405 sponsored by Democratic Senate President Troy Jackson which would require online sportsbook operators to be tethered to existing facilities.

Tethered Maine Online Sports Betting

Jeff Morris, vice president of public affairs and government relations at Penn National Gaming, said it is “critical” that the operation of retail and online sports betting be limited to existing licensed gaming operators. Penn National operates Hollywood Casino in Bangor.

If implemented correctly, Morris noted legalized sport betting could be a boon for Maine, its residents and its established licensed gaming operators.

He pointed to New Jersey, which currently offers a tethered online sports betting system, that allows three skins per casino in the state, which ensures for a competitive market.

Local businessman Don Barberino, owner and operator of two state OTBs, warned that an untethered system would put the brick-and-mortar facilities at a huge disadvantage for online sports betting. These facilities have invested millions into the state, he said, and would suffer in an untethered setting.

Rebecca London, general affairs manager of DraftKings, thanked the committee for considering all four sports betting bills and urged them to legalize sports betting in any way possible for the state. She did not take a position on an untethered or tethered program.

New York’s recently approved online sports betting plan is a tethered program.

The Maine State Legislature will end its legislative session on June 16, giving state lawmakers just a little over six weeks to sign a bill into law.

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