Maine has become the latest state to take a serious look at sports betting, as a pair of bills have been introduced in the state House of Representatives with the same goal of legalizing sports gambling, though with different takes on the matter.
LD 1348 was introduced a month ago by Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos (I – Friendship) and includes most of what one would expect in a sports betting bill. The legal gambling age would be 21 and betting would be permitted at racetracks, off-track betting shops, casinos, and online.
The price is fairly steep for operators, though. The licensing fee is $30,000 (which, on its face isn’t bad, but revenue generation in Maine is going to be limited by its population) and the tax rate is 25 percent on net sports wagering income. Most of the state’s proceeds would go toward K-12 education.
Evangelos told the Portland Press Herald the reason for trying to legalizing sports betting, saying, “It is pretty obvious why we are doing it. It is fun and everyone else is doing it. Why shouldn’t we get a piece of it, too?”
Alright. Pretty simple.
More recently, Rep. Dustin White (R-Washburn) introduced LD 1515, which also aims to legalize sports betting. His bill, though, has a legal gambling age of just 18-years old while at the same time not permitting online and mobile sports betting. The fees are lower, as well: the licensing fee would be $5,000 and the tax rate would be 18 percent, although that tax rate is still higher than most states that have already legalized sports gambling.
The tax revenue would be spread much thinner than in Evangelos’ bill. Only two percent would go to the Department of Education for K-12 programs, while another two percent would be earmarked for community college scholarships. The state’s Native American tribes would get a larger chunk than education and racetracks and off-track betting parlors would also receive funding.
“We’ve had casinos for many, many years now. Gambling isn’t anything new to the state of Maine,” White told the Press Herald. “I think people are more open to sports betting than they have been in the last year. Looking at the national attention, it is just going to trickle up to Maine. I’d rather be the first in New England.”
There may be more sports betting bills to come, as well, which could be a good thing, as it means that multiple lawmakers are giving it heavy consideration and many different idea will be put on the table. One person who is reportedly crafting a bill is state Senator Louis Luchini (D-Ellsworth), chair of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, where Evangelos’ bill currently resides.
“Anytime we expand gambling we have to consider the negative effects. That always becomes part of the equation,” he said. “Gambling bills are always controversial. It is something you have to take the time and meet with all the parties and hash out something responsible.”
Another bill, SB 553, was also introduced in January, but it is just a placeholder bill, literally waiting for regulations to be added.