With Gov. Mills declining to sign a sports gambling bill, betting on sports likely won’t be legalized in Maine until 2020. Unfortunately, the model proposed in that bill (L.D. 553) would have resulted in significant tax revenue for the state.

The bill proposed an untethered approach, allowing all mobile and physical operators to open as soon as possible. Contrarily, Illinois’ plan involves an 18-month period where online-only outlets cannot operate without partnering with physical locations, likely making in-person wagering the only option for this time. Similarly, New York’s legislation includes in-person betting only via upstate casinos, severely limiting the potential revenue flow.

The key to Maine’s proposed legislation was quick access to mobile betting, as it’s the most popular and profitable form. New Jersey proved this, with more than 80 percent of the $2.2 billion wagered in the state since January being placed online. In fact, online betting helped New Jersey’s monthly handle in May overtake Nevada’s.

With a 13 percent tax on the gross revenue sports books earned from mobile bets, the Garden State generated almost $13.5 million in taxes on the year, which would not have existed otherwise. The convenience of online betting makes it superior to in-person, and the proposed legislation would have given Maine residents and visitors access to both forms as soon as possible. By not passing this bill before football season, which the American Gaming Association found to be the most popular sport among bettors, the state is missing out on a healthy influx of tax revenue.

By declining to sign this bill, Gov. Mills postpones what would be a steady stream of funding for Maine’s General Fund as well as important initiatives like problem-gambling programs. With this in mind, it’s crucial to ensure that Maine has immediate access to the most profitable form of sports wagering.

Alexander Kostin

founder, AmericanGambler.com

Copenhagen

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