Maine Lawmakers Try to Prevent Governor’s Sports Betting Compromise Deal with the Tribes

Maine Lawmakers Try to Prevent Governor’s Sports Betting Compromise Deal with the Tribes

Several lawmakers from Maine are attempting to prevent a compromise deal between Governor Janet Mills and state tribes. The governor’s deal would make sports betting legal in the state while allowing the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, and Maliseet tribes to handle mobile operations. State casinos and off-track betting venues would run in-person operations if the same compromise deal would pass. Opposing lawmakers have created an alternative proposal to this compromise in which they could cut casinos in the sports betting market.

Tribes Fear Casinos Would Take Over the Market

Senator Joe Baldacci is one of the opposing lawmakers trying to fight off the governor’s compromise deal. Baldacci is entirely dedicated to the well-being of the local community and he is also a fervent supporter of the greater Bangor region. At the moment, he is chairing the Bangor City Council’s Infrastructure Committee where he serves on two committees. Baldacci is one of the strongest allies of the Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway in his hometown. 

Together with two lawmakers part of the gaming committee, he will roll out the opposing measure in a week’s time. The measure relies on a sports betting bill that was originally approved in the Legislature in 2021. The measure would enable tribes and casinos to apply for licenses for mobile sports betting while guaranteeing 6% of gross mobile revenue (up to $3 million a year) would reach the tribes. 

While Baldacci stated he would continue to support the sovereignty efforts of the tribes in all aspects except for the gaming field, he also criticized the procedure that triggered the compromise deal with Governor Mills.

The Tribes Call the Deal an Attempt to Change the Bill

Speaking on behalf of the Penobscot Nation tribe, Chief Kirk Francis called the compromise deal an attempt to alter the bill in such a way that would allow Hollywood’s parent to rule over the mobile sports betting market in Maine. This would be done with the help of a platform created together with Barstool Sports. Chief Francis acknowledged the deal with the governor was the result of heated negotiations over the topic of sovereignty, in the context of state lawmakers and voters rejecting past attempts of the tribes to establish casinos in the last 20 years.

The bill backed by Governor Mill was made public in February and stated that Bangor and Oxford casinos would not be allowed to offer sports betting. In the new version of the bill, Oxford Casino would be allowed to operate in-person betting. At the same time, Bangor Casino, owned by Penn National Gaming, would only be able to offer sports betting at the Bass Park raceway. In January, Maine lost Senator Louis Luchini, an important supporter rooting for the legalization of sports betting. Luchini lost his legislative powers and accepted a position at the Small Business Administration.