Maine has been slow to legalize sports betting. But it’s better late than never. It can seem hard to believe, especially if you’re located in a state like New York, but sports betting has still not been legalized in Maine.
Maine is an interesting state to look at because it is small.
We know what sports betting life is like in big states like New York, so the small states offer a different perspective. It turns out that a lot of the problems that plague bigger states when they’ve tried to legalize sports betting are also affecting Maine.
These problems — especially the uncertainty over how to handle specific details relating to the implementation of legal sports betting in the state — are making the progress in Maine happen slowly. At the end of the day, it’s better late than never. But let’s consider why the sports betting landscape looks like it does in Maine.
As we’ve seen in the rivalry between Kansas and Missouri, states want to legalize sports betting before their regional peers do. There is a financial incentive in winning this “competition.” Some might see it also as a matter of pride: state governors want to say that they’ve done the right thing by legalizing sports betting before their counterparts from other states do the same.
Maine once looked like a prominent candidate in the sports betting world. 2019, 2020, and 2021 also saw promising measures which reflected a strong level of legislative support in the state for the legalization of sports betting.
But it turns out that we’re in 2022 and sports betting still is not legal in Maine. Their regional competitors in the Northeast / New England have beaten them to the punch. New York, of course, has already legalized sports betting and is thriving as top sportsbooks in the state like Caesars and FanDuel are able to operate.
But also other small states like New Hampshire and Rhode Island offer legal online sports wagering.
Casinos Are Hurt
Casinos in Maine could offer in-person wagering. However, prominent casino operators articulated the hope that they would also control mobile wagering. Instead, the tribes will exercise this control. They are being allowed to acquire the necessary licenses and to have the power that the casinos want.
The bill which would apparently sharpen this discord between casinos and tribes was just approved by the Maine Senate. Janet Mills, the state’s governor, needs to sign the bill into law so that legal sports betting may launch in the state.
While entities like casinos would likely remain frustrated, maybe this is a situation where nobody can be completely happy. In any case, the legalization of sports betting would still generate significant amounts of revenue that would be useful to the state.