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May 16, 2022

Maine Governor Signs Bill To Regulate Sports Betting

Maine has become the first US state in 2022 to announce the regulation of sports betting on its turf, as Governor Janet Mills signed Bill LD585 into law on May 2nd.

The far-ranging bill gave local Indian leaders the right to operate online sports betting statewide, while at the same time creating ten varying licenses that can be obtained by off-track betting facilities, casinos and racetracks.

A similar bill had been created and vetoed in 2021, adding some degree of jeopardy to the passage of LD585. However, Governor Mills signed the current bill without protest, meaning that by the end of the summer Pine Tree State residents will be able to place bets at off-track facilities. This is a particularly big deal given that it will allow Mainers to bet on NFL games when the 2022 season kicks off in mid-September.

Bill LD585 is likely to be just the first step in a chain of laws which are intended to give the Wabanaki Nations full sovereignty within the state of Maine. A statement issued by tribal leaders in the aftermath of the bill’s passage stated: “Permanent sovereignty restoration remains the legislative priority for the Wabanaki Nations, and it will continue to be our priority moving forward.”. Having passed a bill that gives them the right to operate betting facilities, further recognition seems likely to be the next step.

For other Maine residents looking to operate betting facilities, the options are extensive: a four-year retail license will cost $4,000, supplier licenses will start at $40,000 while mobile licences will weigh in at $200,000.

All of these will be available when the signed bill becomes law, a formality which takes place 90 days after signature, meaning the first legal sports bets will be placed in the first week of August. During that period, the race will be on for providers to put into place the physical infrastructure involved both in taking bets and paying out to winners.

On signing the legislation, Governor Mills thanked local Wabanaki leaders and State lawmakers for working together in good faith to deliver a bill which served the state’s residents.

It remains to be seen whether further betting-related bills will make their way to the floor of Congress in Augusta this year. However, with the recent acknowledgement by New York lawmakers that that state’s initial legislation is in dire need of amendment, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see follow-up bills in many of the states that have already legalized sports betting.

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