Where Legalized Sports Betting Stands in Maine After Gov. Mills' Veto

Young and vulnerable gamblers need protection in the law, Gov. Janet Mills said, but a compromise bill is possible

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Maine has a chance at becoming the next New England state that allows legal sports betting but, odds are, it won't be right away.

Adding Maine to the list of places where sports betting legal, which includes New Hampshire and Rhode Island, is something Maine's legislature voted to do months ago.

But the bill that lawmakers had okayed stalled on Democratic Governor Janet Mills' desk until last Friday. That's when her office announced she had vetoed the legislation.

Mills said in a statement that she understands there is a need for Maine to address illegal gambling but young and vulnerable gamblers need protection in the law.

Mills is not conviced by the argument promulgated by many on the internet, even reaching Barstool Sports' website, that sports gambling is "happening everywhere."

She says she understands there's a need to address illegal gambling, but the new law needs to do more to protect young and vulnerable gamblers.

"As I said in my veto letter, if you legalize it, regulate it, just because it's happening and we know it's happening, then you might as well legalize and formalize and promote betting on the weather, betting on the next election results, betting on the spelling bee champion of Cumberland County," she said in a Tuesday interview. "I don't think that's where Maine people are at just yet."

Maine's senate was scheduled to weigh in on the issue again on Tuesday by holding a vote to sustain or override Mills' veto.

But the vote was pushed back until later in the week because some lawmakers were not available.

Longtime Maine lawmaker Sen. Bill Diamond, a fellow Democrat, says he thinks the vote will not change the bill's status much.

"I would expect that the veto will be sustained," he tells NECN/NBC10 Boston, based on conversations he had with colleagues on Tuesday.

"Maine is a gambling state for sure, we just want to do it right."

January is the beginning of Maine's new legislative session, which means a compromise bill could potentially surface for a vote and be acted on.

However, Diamond says, that likely would not happen in the immediate future since it may require a complete re-writing of the legislation.

"We'd have to find out first if there is there a path for both sides to get there," he says. "If there is, then maybe it'd be worth putting the time in and if it isn't, it'll probably have to wait until next year."

Some Mainers think that's just fine, since they had no experience or interest in sports betting when interviewed Tuesday afternoon.

"I haven't heard of the issue and I'm not sure most Mainers have heard of it," one man told us.

The Maine Senate is expected to take up the override vote on Thursday.

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