AUGUSTA — A legislative committee that oversees gambling voted Monday to kill several bills related to legalized sports betting in Maine, leaving alive a single measure that could open the door for wagering on major league sports.

The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee will select several provisions to include in a recommended bill, which likely will include betting on mobile devices but prohibit gambling on youth sports and, potentially, video game competitions. The state also will collect a tax on sports betting, although the proposed amount is unclear.

Other provisions on the table would allow sports betting at off-track betting parlors or at high-stakes bingo halls operated by Native American tribes in Maine.

If legislation passes this year, Maine would join seven other states that have approved sports betting in the wake of a May 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned a federal law prohibiting states from legalizing betting on sports.

Milton Champion, the executive director of the Maine Gambling Control Unit, which regulates the state’s casino industry, has estimated that the state would only take in about $380,000 a year from the industry, based on $3.8 million in projected wagers.

Some lawmakers on the committee voiced concern about expanding gambling in Maine.

“I sure as heck don’t want somebody’s grocery money going towards this,” said Rep. Josanne Dolloff, R-Rumford. Dolloff also said she was concerned children would be able to access gambling applications with mobile gambling and that more of a family’s time would be spent online.

But other lawmakers said some forms of sports betting, especially fantasy sports wagering, are already taking place in Maine and in order to gamble a person needed to show they were at least 18 and have a valid credit or debit card.

Sen. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, the committee’s Senate chairman, expects the panel to submit a bill for consideration by the full Legislature by late May.

 

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