Maine Senate overrides controversial Gov. Mills veto of sports betting

Published: Feb. 6, 2020 at 7:09 PM EST
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After an intense last-minute push to whip the votes, lawmakers secured the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate to override Gov. Mills' veto and give the House the opportunity to legalize sports betting in Maine.

"I was nervous going into this vote," said Sen. Louis Luchini. "I didn't know if we had it or not, and the votes fell in a way that gave it to us."

Luchini fought hard to get the 20 votes needed in the Senate, and that's exactly what they got. The 20-10 margin gave them the necessary two-thirds majority.

The bill would legalize both in-person and online betting in Maine.

"We tried to put together a reasonable, regulated system for sporting gambling," said Luchini. "I think we realized that's the only way you can counter the illegal market. So I'm happy the vote went well, and we've got an override in the House to see if we can get it through."

Proponents of legalization cite the benefits it could have for Mainers: $3.5-6.5 million of additional revenue and a safer avenue to bet than offshore books.

On the other hand, opponents say they don't want to see an increase in gambling addiction, and they have a problem with the bill's online betting aspect.

"If you do not live in Maine, you are not going to be as invested in the state as if you did," said Sen. Scott Cyrway, R-Albion. "The same can be said about businesses. If a business is not physically present, it's not going to offer the same investment."

Maine's two casinos preferred a different version of the bill, but their lobbying efforts came up short. Lobbying from both sides now shifts to the House, as we should see a final vote there next week.