Sports betting legalization bill passes in committee

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - A bill to legalize sports betting in Maine passed out of committee Friday on a divided vote.

The majority of the panel voted to not require online sports books to be tethered to a brick-and-mortar location. The minority report is in favor of most of the bill, but wants online sports books to have to be tethered to a physical gambling facility.

An agreement was also struck to set the tax rates at 10% for brick-and-mortar, and 16% for online books.

"I'm happy that sports gambling is going forward," said bill co-sponsor Rep. Scott Strom, R-Pittsfield. "I think a lot of people are already doing it, and the state's going to get some revenue out of this. I think it's a win-win."

"We could get anywhere from 3-6 million dollars a year in revenue into our general fund by doing this," said Strom. "We're always looking for more revenue in the state. I think we could definitely use it. We've got some big programs that we're trying to fund here. It's going to be helpful."

Several members of the committee were not present today and still have time to vote, but their votes aren't expected to change the outcome.