AUGUSTA – Sports betting in Maine has overcome a hurdle, getting a green light from the Maine State Senate after Governor Janet Mills vetoed the bill earlier this year.
In a 20 to 10 vote, senators voted in favor of overriding Governor Mills’s veto on sports betting. That means a bill to legalize wagering on sports games is one step closer to becoming law – a sigh of relief for its sponsor.
“It’s obviously a high bar to ever override the governor. I was nervous going into this vote, I didn’t know if we had it or not,” said Sen. Louis Luchini, (D – Ellsworth), the original bill’s sponsor.
The Maine House of Representatives still has to vote on an override, something Sen. Luchini said he thinks they’ll support.
Senators did not vote completely along party lines, and some stood by their original vote against sports betting.
“Gambling addiction – this is a serious problem in Maine, just like our substance abuse problem. Some families have members that are gambling away their future,” said Sen. Stacey Guerin, (R – Glenburn).
She said she heard from her Penobscot County constituents on this.
“The majority of them were in agreement with me for no expansion of gambling,” said Sen. Guerin.
But Sen. Luchini said he’s gotten a lot of support on this, and that he thinks lawmakers are realizing it would mean tax revenue for the state and a way to counter the illegal market.
“We’ve seen a lot of states quickly come on board to legalize sports betting, that it’s an opportunity that if we don’t do other states will get our players,” he said.
Those who changed their stance on sports betting declined comment.
The governor’s office also declined comment until the House vote, but Sen. Luchini said he’s willing to work with the governor.
The Maine House of Representatives is expected to take up sports betting next week. That vote will also need a two thirds majority.