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Updated: January 13, 2020

Mills vetoes bill to legalize sports betting in Maine

Gov. Janet Mills on Friday vetoed a bill that would have legalized sports betting in Maine, saying more time is needed to examine the issue and understand the experience of other states.

The bill, LD 553 ("An Act to Ensure Proper Oversight of Sports Betting in the State"), was one of three held over from the Legislature's last session she vetoed, while allowing 24 others to be enacted.

The other vetoes were of LD 517 ("An Act to Facilitate Fair Ballot Representation for All Candidates") and LD 268 ("An Act to Create a Credit under the Commercial Forestry Excise Tax for Landowners Using Businesses Based in the United States").

In a two-page letter to lawmakers on the sports betting measure, Mills said that while she believes it would be a step forward in regulating what is now a black market activity, "I remain unconvinced at this time that the majority of Maine people are ready to legalize, support, endorse and promote betting on competitive events."

Right now, Mainers' closest option for sports betting is New Hampshire, which legalized sports betting on Dec. 30 under a contract with DraftKings. According to ESPN, 14 states have legalized sports betting, while another seven have passed legislation but have not yet legalized it. Another two dozen are considering legislation. 

"Before Maine joins the frenzy of state hungry to attract this market," Mills wrote, "I believe we need to examine the issue more clearly, better understand the evolving experiences of other states, and thoughtfully determine the best approach for Maine. That approach needs to balance the desire to suppress gambling activities now being conducted illegally and the need to protect youthful gamblers and those least able to absorb losses under a closely regulated scheme."

Mills also allowed 24 bills to become law without her signature and said that the Legislature recalled 13 bills from her desk for further consideration or drafting clarification.

Friday's actions clears the governor's desk of all pending legislation, a day ahead of the Jan. 11 deadline.

Full list of bills allowed  

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