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Maine Online Gaming Bill Defeated By Just Three Votes

Some Legislators Suggest Efforts Return Next Year

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Attempts to legalize online gaming in Maine were defeated on Tuesday when a bill was voted down 74-71 in the state house.

The legislation would have legalized online casinos via the state’s Wabanaki tribes, which exclusively operate sports betting in the state. Poker wasn’t mentioned specifically in the bill, but a reference to games of skill meant that the game could have been offered.

“‘Internet gaming’ means a game of skill or chance offered through the Internet in which an individual wagers money or something of monetary value for the opportunity to win money or something of monetary value,” the bill’s language notes.

Hope Remains For 2025

All but one Republican voted against the bill with nine Democrats also joining that group. Supporters hoped to bring in more revenue for state coffers as well as to offer an economic boost for the state’s tribes.

However, some of those voting against passage expressed opposition because it excluded the state’s current casino operators from taking part in the industry. Rep. David Boyer® was one of those and preferred changes to the legislation for a more open market and tax rate adjustments.

He urged supporters to bring the issue back up next year.

“As much as I want to play online poker, this isn’t the way to do it,” Boyer said. “I’m concerned with the jobs that are at stake in Oxford and Bangor. The tax rates are not comparable. The brick-and-mortar casinos have a very high tax rate.”

As a state of only 1.4 million people, the Pine Tree State faces obstacles for online poker seen in other small-population states like West Virginia, Connecticut, and Delaware. A successful ringed-in market seems unlikely but could potentially be a boost to the country Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), which currently includes Nevada, New Jersey, Michigan, Delaware, and West Virginia.

The move in Maine comes after similar efforts were recently shot down in Maryland after getting approved in the house but falling in the senate without reaching a vote.