Maine Online Casino Defeated in House, Has Slim Chance in Senate

A Maine online casino bill failed by three votes on April 9, when 74 members of the Maine House of Representatives voted against LD1777. Exactly 71 representatives voted for the iGaming measure that would have legalized iGaming for Mainers, with revenue heading to the state’s tribes. It likely means the bill is dead.

However, the bill sponsor — state Rep. Laura D. Supica, D-Bangor — succeeded at having the “ought not to pass” motion from the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs sent from the House to the Senate for consideration.

That represents a slim chance that the Senate could keep the measure alive.

Supica texted Bonus after the April 9 vote:

The hope is the Senate will pass and we will recede and concur. Now, folks are on the record and folks can try to flip their votes.

Maine allows divided reports to emerge from committees. That was the case for LD1777 on April 8, when the committee of House and Senate members sent a report in favor of LD1777 that had seven votes for “ought to pass as amended.” That report received the 74-71 defeat on the House floor on April 9.

The other committee report, “ought not to pass,” had six votes and moved on to the Senate at Supica’s request.

If the House and Senate approve LD1777, the measure will require a signature from Gov. Janet Mills to become law.

If Maine does legalize online casinos, it may be the only state to do so in 2024. Maryland’s bill didn’t pass by the April 8 legislature adjournment.

LD1777 Attempted to Right Maine’s Treatment of Tribes

Supica said Maine’s past gaming laws wronged Maine’s tribes. LD1777, which only allowed the state’s tribes to offer iGaming, could have helped correct that, she testified.

Maine’s tribes mentioned in LD1777 comprise the Wabanaki Nation:

  • Mi’kmaq Nation
  • Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians
  • Passamaquoddy Tribe
  • Penobscot Nation

State Rep. Aaron M. Dana, a member representing the Passamaquoddy Tribe, testified in favor of LD1777.

He said Maine online casino would be “Maine State citizen-owned,” unlike the retail casinos belonging to out-of-state entities. So if the measure had passed, all revenue would be reinvested in Maine.

Dana added that Maine’s tribes were excluded from retail casino gaming, with both facilities operating as commercial casinos.

Maine’s retail casinos are:

  • Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway Bangor
  • Oxford Casino Hotel, owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI)

Opponents Voiced 3 Primary Concerns

LD1777 discriminates against non-tribal entities by only allowing tribes to partner with iGaming operators, contended state Rep. Shelley Rudnicki, R-Fairfield.

She added that online casino may result in retail casino job losses. Plus, iGaming may be addictive, Rudnicki said.

State Rep. Scott Wynn Cyrway, R-Albion, said gambling could cause harm like it did for a man who used to live on his street who lost his business and home. [Bonus author note: Considering legal Maine online casinos aren’t yet allowed in the state, iGaming wasn’t the cause of that issue.]

State Rep. David W. Boyer Jr., R-Poland,

As much as I want to play online poker, this isn’t the way to do it.

Before the House vote, Steve Silver, chairman of the Maine Gambling Control Board (GCB), told Bonus on April 9 that he was also opposed to LD1777.

Silver told Bonus on April 9:

I am still opposed to LD 1777 because it cuts out the state’s two casinos, who have been great partners in gaming with the state. The two casinos delivered $70 million to the state last year and employ hundreds of Mainers. Passing LD 1777 threatens to put Mainers out of work and will reduce the amount of revenue that many important entities receive like the Department of Education and the Maine Community College System. … There are also very real issues with the increase in gambling addiction that iGaming legalization brings.

However, Silver said, the bill amendments did address possible conflicts with other online gambling in the state.

What Senators May Consider

Supica told House members on April 9:

The future of gambling will be online.

If Senators approve LD1777, operators will pay a 16% tax rate that, according to the bill’s March 19 Fiscal Note, will generate more than $3.8 million during Fiscal Year 2025.

That tax revenue would fund:

  • 2% Gambling Control Unit (GCU) Administration Expenses
  • 3% Gambling Addiction Prevention and Treatment Fund
  • 3% Emergency 911 Fund
  • 3% Opioid Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment Fund
  • 2% Emergency Housing Relief Fund
  • 3% Maine Veterans’ Homes Stabilization Fund

Silver said if the governor signs the bill into law, the gambling-age adults among Maine’s 1.3 million residents may be able to play online casino games “in about a year.” Last year’s only state to legalize online casino — Rhode Island — launched Bally Casino on March 1.

Silver told Bonus on April 9:

The legislature is in session until the end of next week. So, if it passes, it would be in the next 10 days.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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