Maine’s top lawmaker, Governor Janet Mills, decided that sports gambling didn’t need to be allowed in the state, vetoing an effort by lawmakers to push through legislation that would have allowed sportsbooks to start popping up across the land. Her argument for denying the measure was puzzling, at best, and showed an odd concern for how the activity might impact an unlikely target – spelling bees. Since legislators had the forethought to not give too much control to one individual, the veto can be overridden by lawmakers, and that is now what Maine is seeing. While not yet ready to be written in stone, sports gambling is close, once again, to being legalized after the state Senate approved a vote to kill the governor’s veto.
The Senate voted yesterday to essentially ignore the veto and allow LD 553 to move forward, winning by 20-10. A sponsor of the bill, Senator Louis Luchini, explains, “I think a lot of people realize that the illegal market is so huge, and we’ve seen a lot of states quickly come on board to legalize sports betting, that if we don’t do it, other states will get our players to go to their state.”
Mills had asserted that she didn’t believe there was enough support from the people of Maine to warrant legalized sports gambling. However, it’s doubtful that, with her hectic schedule, she would have had enough time to canvas the state to determine what they wanted. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what Senators and Representatives are in place for – to represent their respective districts and introduce laws those individuals would like to see. Apparently, at least 20 districts covered by the House want to be able to place wagers legally.
The House will now have to vote on LD 553, as well, for it to become a law. As long as there are no attempts to derail or postpone the efforts, the chamber should put the matter to a vote next Tuesday. Just like was the case with the Senate, two-thirds of the House has to approve overriding the veto for the legislation to stand.
Governor Mills is willing to be a good sport about things if her veto is crushed. The first-term governor states, “Before Maine joins the frenzy of states hungry to attract this market, 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. Should the Legislature override this veto, or should Legislature take up a similar measure next year, my administration will continue to help with drafting and analysis to best address the unique needs of our state.”