On Friday, Maine Governor Janet Mills vetoed a bill that would have legalized, regulated and taxed sports betting in the state. Mills actually had a midnight deadline on Saturday, but it appears like she didn’t need any extra time to make her decision.
The sports betting bill was one that was held over from the Legislative session that concluded in June. It would have given casinos, racetracks, off-track betting locations, and Native American tribes the ability to accept sports betting wagers. Online betting was also a part of the recently-vetoed bill.
In her veto letter, Mills said, “I remain unconvinced at this time that the majority of Maine people are ready to legalize, support, endorse and promote betting on competitive athletic events. Before Maine joins the frenzy of states hungry to attract this market, I believe we need to examine the issue more clearly.”
Plenty of Maine residents and businesses are disappointed by the result, knowing that a great thing has just passed them by.
“It’ll give us an opportunity to expand our fanbase, bring people back to the racetrack, expose them to harness racing,” said Mike Sweeney of Scarborough Downs – a place that would have been able to accept wagers. “Imagine this great big grandstand filled to capacity on Super Bowl Sunday. People are making their wagers, watching on large-screen television sets. It’s a lot more fun to come here and watch an event with all your buddies.
“You’re cheering. You’re yelling.”
Maine would have gotten 16 percent of every bet that was placed, with the winnings paid out counting against the state. While there are still plenty of ways to bet illegally with underground and black-market bookies, this was a chance for Maine to have a legitimate way of doing business.
“The other surrounding areas, other surrounding states, are going to benefit from it, so why shouldn’t we?” said Portland resident Ray Emerson. “It benefits everybody. I mean, I don’t see the losing part of it.”
While Emerson couldn’t see the red flags involved with sports betting, Governor Mills and others in her camp certainly did. This is an activity that can be hazardous activity, if not done with caution, and Governor Mills said she would like to protect young gamblers and those who aren’t financially stable enough to be betting.
Just as the case is with other states, there will always be those who are opposed to sports betting. If it hasn’t become clear yet, there are states that have been able to do this in a responsible manner and generate plenty of money for things like roads, school systems and other areas of need.
Time will tell if Maine and Governor Mills end up taking another crack at adding sports betting again at some point. With New Hampshire fully legalized and Massachusetts in discussions to have it added, Maine would be missing out on some good money from residents and travelers to the New England area. It would truly be a shame if Maine doesn’t revisit this is in the near future.