Republican Scott Strom added further weight to calls for legal sports betting to be introduced in the state of Maine, with a guest opinion piece in this week’s Bangor Daily News ahead of the return of the state legislature on January 8.
The politician’s co-sponsor of LD 553, the bill aimed at legalising sports wagering in Maine, says the bill’s passage is an opportunity to protect Mainers and deliver a major blow to illegal operators.
Strom wrote in the BDN, noting: “Nearly two years since the US Supreme Court overturned the law prohibiting sports wagering, Mainers are still left with only one option: the illegal market. Today, the illegal offshore sports wagering industry preys upon Mainers through deceptive advertising, confusing many into thinking they are wagering with a legal, regulated sportsbook.
“In reality, these sites take money from Mainers while providing no safeguards. Their money is constantly at risk and the illegal sportsbook operators do nothing in the way of identifying problem gambling and ensuring customers have access to valuable responsible gaming tools.”
According to Strom, LD 553 would create a framework that requires all licenced Maine sportsbook operators to conduct their business professionally, protecting bettors and offering an “enjoyable, first-class experience that incentives individuals to leave the illegal market”.
He wrote the following: “By looking to other states that have gone live with regulated sports wagering, one theme is clear: If we are serious about putting an end to the illegal market, then mobile sports wagering is critical. Nearly 85% of sports wagering activity in New Jersey and Pennsylvania takes place online, and this trend is consistent among other states that have recently begun regulating sports wagering.”
Strom and supporters of LD 553, despite having been with Governor Janet Mills since it was passed by lawmakers last June, shouldn’t have to wait too long to discover the fate of the bill. From the reopening of the state legislature, she will have three effective days to either sign it off, do nothing, or kick it into the long grass. Sign off or failure to act will see it passed into law.
In conclusion, Strom urged Mills to allow the legislation to become law and “…begin eradicating the illegal operators’ stronghold on our consumers”. “Not allowing LD 553 to become law will only serve to benefit select special interest groups and, most of all, illegal bookmakers,” he wrote. “Let’s give consumers a legal alternative, let’s give them safety, let’s give them what the Legislature passed in June.”
Governor Mills has a considerable incentive to pass LD 553 into law, with New Hampshire and Rhode Island’s close neighbours already running legal sports wagering. Stalling legalisation now might jeopardise what many Mainers see as a great opportunity to boost government revenue.