It was a wild day for Maine sports betting after Senator Louis Luchini (D-7), the sponsor for LD 1352, spoke out against his own sports betting bill and opposed several key changes to the document that were ultimately passed by the Senate.
The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 23-12 and moved it along to the House during the state’s first extra day of its legislative session, but not before Luchini criticized the changes made to his sports betting plan.
Tethering For Maine Sports Betting is Anti-Competitive
Luchini, a staunch opponent of tethered sports betting licenses, spoke out against a Senate supported amendment to his bill to require online sports betting license be tethered to existing Maine casinos. Luchini actually moved that the “ought to pass as amended report” be approved by the Senate “out of respect on the committee’s work on this bill,” but then took several minutes to speak out on the tethering proposal.
Tethering is “anti-competitive and anti-free market,” he explained, and would ultimately result in less consumer choice for his constituents.
“The end result is less consumer choice for our constituents and higher operator costs for our platforms. That cost won’t get absorbed by the online platforms, it will get passed on to the tens or potentially hundreds of thousands Mainers who want to place bets on the online apps. That will come in the form of worse payouts and odds,” Luchini said.
Luchini’s original bill, LD 1352, proposed a Maine sports betting plan that would open the state to an uncapped amount of online sports betting licenses that would not have to be tethered or partnered to a brick-and-mortar facility.
The anti-business structure of tethering is not present in any other industry, he said.
“We don’t require Airbnb to tether to our existng hotels and inns. We don’t require Uber to be tethered to our taxi services and we don’t require Amazon to be tethered to our retail businesses,” Luchini said.
Great for Gaming Industry, Bad for Mainers
Tethering is a tool designed by the casino industry to drive people into their facilities. It’s great for the gaming industry, he said, but bad for Mainers who want to place legal sports bets.
The amendment to include tethering was added late Wednesday evening. It requires in-person and online sports betting licenses to be tethered with either the two existing Maine casinos, one racetrack, five OTBs and potentially Maine’s four Native American tribes.
A bill, LD 554, to allow Maine’s four Native American tribes to offer gambling on their lands, was passed by both the House and Senate on Thursday.