Maine Becomes 2022’s First US State to Legalize Sports Betting

Maine Governor Janet Mills signed LD585, the state’s sports betting bill, into law last Monday. After both the Maine House and Senate supported the bill last month, it picked up massive popularity within the Pine Tree State. This support culminated in Gov. Mills’ approval on 2 May, effectively legalizing sports betting within the state. 

While this move to regulation is relatively surprising, with Gov. Mills previously vetoing a similar sports betting proposal in 2020, it’s an incredibly exciting time for sports bettors in Maine. Legislation in the Pine Tree State is effective 90 days after the session ends. Since the Maine 2022 session ended on 25 April, we can expect legal sports betting to arrive in the state by late July, just in time for the start of the 2022 NFL season. 

Previous Opposition

Back in 2020, Maine Gov. Mills vetoed a 2019 bill to legalize sports betting in Maine. In her veto letter to the legislature, she explained that Maine was not ready to “legalize, support, endorse and promote” regulated sports betting. Mills clarified that the state needed to “examine the issue more clearly”. She also requested further studies on sports betting before “rushing” into legislation. 

While this bill was sent back to the Appropriations Table to die, Mills’ change of heart in 2022 means LD585 could launch Maine’s regulated sports betting industry. This time around, Mills stated that she is “proud of the work that the State and Wabanaki Nations put into drafting this legislation”. 

She continued, “I am grateful for the honest effort, extensive research and the hours of negotiations and discussions which bore fruit in this bill.” Now, Maine sports bettors only have to wait until 31 July to place in-person wagers in the Pine Tree State’s two commercial gambling venues. Mobile betting will follow soon after. 

Maine’s Tribal Sovereignty

Still, LD585 does not accurately address the issue of tribal sovereignty in Maine. The US Constitution recognizes native tribes as “distinct governments”. Therefore, these tribes have essentially the same powers as state and federal governments, allowing them to regulate their own internal affairs. However, in Maine, native lands remain under state jurisdiction, so tribal sovereignty is not fully existent in the state. 

While LD585 doesn’t address these issues, this new regulation does give the Wabanaki Nations more control over legal sports betting (both retail and online). Since these tribes currently have no assets in this profitable industry, this is a massive step for the Wabanaki Nations.

As a part of this new bill, Maine’s three federally-recognized tribes can obtain a mobile sports betting license. These operators can either build their own sportsbooks or sign an agreement and partner with other renowned brands. Therefore, we may soon see the likes of DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars, BetMGM, and PointsBet in the Pine Tree State. 

Regulated Sports Betting is Coming to the Pine Tree State

Gov. Mills’ approval and signing of LD585 has allowed Maine to join the 30+ other US states with legalized and regulated sports betting industries. Similarly, the state’s move for regulation means that Maine has become 2022’s first state to pass a legal sports betting bill. 

Aside from the state’s tribal sports betting licenses, there are an additional 10 retail licenses available for Maine’s casinos, horse racing tracks and off-track betting facilities. However, the work has just begun for Maine’s sports betting market. The next step is for the state to issue licenses to qualifying applicants and establish the virtual and physical infrastructure needed to take wagers and payout to winners. 

By the end of summer 2022, bettors in Maine will be able to place legal sports wagers on various major and minor leagues, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NLH, and more.

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