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Maine Governor Vetoes Sports Betting Legislation

Gov. Janet Mills Joined Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder As Governors To Veto Gambling Legislation In Their States

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Gov. Janet Mills vetoed a bill last Friday that would have legalized sports betting in Maine.

Mills, a Democrat, joins former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, as the two governors to veto gambling legislation in their respective states.

Snyder vetoed a comprehensive online gambling bill at the end of 2018. The Wolverine State passed a nearly identical bill a year later with a new governor.

When Snyder vetoed the Michigan bill, he cited concerns that opening up a legal online gambling market would hurt the state’s lottery, which funds the bulk of the state’s education system. Mills, on the other hand, took the traditionally conservative reason for her veto.

Mills said that she was “unconvinced” that the majority of Maine residents were behind the bill and questioned the bill’s ability to protect children and problem gamblers from the perils of gambling.

“I appreciate the Legislature’s interest in this evolving issue and respectfully request that you sustain this veto while we closely monitor the impact of legalization and the successes and failures in other states as they seek to regulate and benefit from sports betting,” Mills said in her veto message.

The bill could still become law through a two-thirds vote in both chambers to override the veto. It is highly unlikely that will happen since the bill passed in the Senate by a narrow margin.

The bill passed the House and Senate last June, but a rule in the state’s constitution allowed Mills to sit on the bill until the next legislative session, which started last week.

If it was signed into law, Maine would have become the first of what will likely be several states that legalize sports betting in 2020. It would have become the 21st state to pass sports betting legislation and only the sixth to pass legislation with online or mobile betting.

With its veto, Mainers’ only sports betting options in the region are in Rhode Island and New Hampshire, which launched its operation just before the new year.