© 2022 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Legislative Committee Shows Support For Allowing Sports Betting In Maine

Sports Betting NFL Football
Wayne Parry
Associated Press
In this Sept. 9, 2018, file photo, football fans wait for kickoff in the sports betting lounge at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.

Legislation that would authorize, regulate, and tax sports betting is under consideration by the legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. And during a public hearing on Friday, there was broad support for allowing sport wagering.

The committee heard testimony on four bills that all propose to allow sports betting in Maine, but they differ on ways to regulate and tax an industry that has grown dramatically after it was allowed by a U.S. Supreme Court decision. One bill is sponsored by the co-chairman of the committee, Democratic Sen. Louis Luchini of Ellsworth.

"This offers a safer regulated system for Mainers who wish to bet on sports. It will help Maine’s retail gambling locations," Luchini says.

Steve Silver, chairman of the Gambling Control Board, urged passage of legislation so the state can benefit from the taxes on the wagering. Silver said he was only speaking for himself and reminded lawmakers that betting is already underway, but Mainers who bet on unregulated sites can never be sure they will see their winnings. There was no opposition at the hearing, but last session Gov. Janet Mills vetoed similar legislation.

“Since January of 2020 sports betters have wagered $459 million in New Hampshire. That has resulted in $15.5 million dollars in tax revenue to the state," Silver says.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.