Maine Lawmakers Vote On Legalization Of Sports Betting


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MAINE (WBZNewsRadio) - While legislation in Massachusetts remains stalled, the Maine Senate has voted in support of legalizing sports gambling.

The 23-11 vote effectively ensured the measure will go to the Democratic governor for her signature.

The Maine Sports gambling bill would empower racing tracks and casinos to create opportunities for in-person sports wagering. The mobile space would be reserved for the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy and Maliseet tribes. The state estimates the mobile sports betting sector to be about 85 percent of the total market.

Right now, Maine has just two casinos, Oxford's Oxford Casino and Bangor's Hollywood Casino. The state does however have several racing tracks in the Bangor Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway and Scarborough's Scarborough Downs. The bill would also allow each of these horse racetracks to operate retail sports wagering markets. It would put Maine among a majority of states that have legalized sports betting since 2018.

But the bill is more than just about sports betting, it's a major step for local tribes in their quest to renegotiate the terms of a 1980s land-claims settlement, in which they accepted tens of millions of dollars in exchange for being regulated like other municipalities.

Governor Janet Mills also made concessions to tribes in the measure, including tax relief for the three tribes and a consultation process with the state on policies that would impact them.

The bill is among a trio of active tribal rights bills still active in the 2022 legislative session.

On Tuesday, lawmakers recalled a measure from Mills’ desk that would give the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Sipayik control over their water source to make changes aimed at winning the governor’s approval. That version was sent back to her by the end of the day.

WBZ's Jim MacKay (@JimMacKayOnAir) reports

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