AUGUSTA, Maine — After four sports betting bills were introduced in this legislative session, one remained after the Legislature Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs voted down the other three during a work session Friday.
The language in all the bills call for the same thing: the legalization of sports gambling in the state. The reason there are multiple bills on the same issue is that when states legalize betting there are different ways to grant licenses to businesses and regulate gaming.
The remaining bill sponsored by Sen. Louis Luchini (D-Hancock) was not voted through the committee work session Friday afternoon. Instead, it will be worked on by legislators after they voted the other three bills down.
The big roadblock facing these legislators is if they want to support a tethered or untethered model. Related to sports betting, a tethered model means brick and motor businesses, like casinos, and race tracks are the only entities that can receive a sports betting license.
Also under that model, casinos and those businesses can still offer mobile gaming options. An untethered approach eliminates the need for mobile sites to have a physical location in the state.
For example, Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway in Bangor is owned by Penn National Gaming. The parent company also owns Barstool Sports and its mobile betting platform. In a tethered approach, the mobile app can launch in Maine because it has a physical casino location.
A spokesperson for Penn National Gaming did testify in support of the tethered model during the committee's public hearing last month.
If the lawmakers stick with the untethered approach as introduced by Luchini, any mobile sportsbook could take bets in the state without having a physical location in Maine.
The untethered model did make it through the committee last year. The bill, also sponsored by Luchini was then passed by the Maine Legislature but was vetoed by Maine's Governor Janet Mills.
Mills was concerned about the bill not including strong enough language regarding enforcement of illegal gambling rings and operations and marketing towards children.
Those concerns and the concerns raised by members of the committee will be addressed as lawmakers get back to work on the legislation.