Not allowing legal sports betting in Maine is one bad decision

Dirigo, our state motto, means “I Lead.” Perhaps it needs to be changed. At least when it comes to sports betting because we are now way behind many other states. Why? Because Governor Janet Mills hosed Mainers on Friday as bad as a back door cover.

She vetoed a bill that would have brought legal sports betting, and the millions of dollars in revenue that comes with it, to Maine.

“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,” Mills wrote.

There is a reason other states are “hungry” for legal sports betting but basically she says we’re not ready. Wait. What?

Just to be clear you and I can buy Maine Lottery tickets in hundreds of locations in every corner of the state. We have two large casinos in Maine. But she thinks we are too irresponsible to manage betting on an occasional NCAA basketball game?

As I cruise around Bangor now I see shops popping up where you can buy anything from pot brownies to pot jello to pot laced tuna casseroles. But she doesn’t trust me to bet “the over” on Monday Night Football?

Please enlighten me Gov.

“Our 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.”

Scheme. Kind of like the scheme where Janet and her buds in Augusta collect tax money from cigarettes, alcohol and junk food from us uneducated and impoverished Mainers. But we can’t be trusted to put 20 bucks of our own money down on Sox.

I guess I should feel thankful I am being made safe and secure from the sin of sports gambling unlike our border neighbors in New Hampshire. That state just approved legal sports betting last week and soon will have more money for their schools and roads. Mercifully we don’t have to worry about counting those extra dollars up here.

And it’s not just the granite state. As many as 20 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia are poised to legalize sports betting and collect tax revenue from it in 2020. A dozen more already have done so.

You know what’s even more frustrating is that Governor Mills killed this bill that according to the Portland Press Herald this was not even particularly controversial.

They say it “received widespread bi partisan support in the last session” and that the bill “faced no formal opposition in the legislature, beyond some lawmakers voicing concern over problem gamblers.”

Can you imagine in this day in age members of both parties being ok with something and it still got tossed aside?

Plus it was written to allow casino operators, off-track betting parlors, harness racing tracks and Native American tribes in Maine to host sports betting operations.

No real opposition. Everyone benefits. But she ripped up the bill like it was a losing lottery ticket, which is perfectly legal to do in Maine.

I’ll certainly wave at all of the people holding scratch offs as they walk out of heading the liquor stores and pot shops here in Maine as I place my legal bets in New Hampshire.

Come with me. I’ll Dirigo the way.

Jeff Solari

About Jeff Solari

Jeff Solari is the president and founder of the Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports e mail newsletter. Recently, the Mount Desert Island native was the co-host of "The Drive" on 92.9 FM in Bangor.