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Alexander Kostin: Maine should support legal online betting | Lewiston Sun Journal
25th August, 04:14With legalized sports betting on the horizon for Maine, many in New England are forecasting the success of the new venture. Most legislators support an untethered approach to licensing, meaning mobile operators won't have to be attached to physical properties and can open as soon as they are able. Judging on how other states have rolled the dice on legalized gambling, Maine is making the smart bet.
According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Garden State residents and visitors have wagered more than $1.7 billion on sports from January to May of this year. Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reports a total handle (the amount of money wagered) of just under $181 million in this same time frame.
Why such a difference, despite Pennsylvania having a much larger population? Well, more than 80% of New Jersey's total handle was bet via computers and mobile devices. Contrarily, Pennsylvania did not have access to legal online betting until May 31. This supports the notion that if states want to maximize the financial benefit, they must enable the most convenient and popular form of betting. While many newly opened sportsbooks have done a fine job attracting interested bettors, they will never beat the simplicity of placing a bet minutes before a game from the comfort of a couch. This becomes even more significant with the rise of live betting, which allows gamblers to wager after the game's opening whistle.
This approach is especially important considering the income generated will assist important initiatives. Two percent of Maine's sports gambling tax revenue is proposed to support problem-gambling programs. It is crucial to ensure that the most profitable source of revenue is up and running as soon as possible. Maine's untethered plan does just that.
Illinois, another state joining in on legalized sports gambling, put forth a plan that involves an 18-month period in which the online giants will not be able to host their own operations without partnering with an existing facility with a physical sportsbook. Along with this not letting the big players immediately enter the market, the Illinois legislation also mandates that gamblers will have to register in-person at the facilities before being able to make bets. The reason mobile gambling has been so profitable for states is that it allows users to bet from anywhere within the state's borders. Requiring registration on-site would be a step in the opposite direction.
Fortunately, Maine did not include such mandates, enabling full access to the prime revenue stream as quickly as possible.
Should the proposed legislation be put into action soon, it helps commenced regulated sports gambling at an opportune time. The American Gaming Association found that among the core sports betting audience (Americans who placed a sports wager in the past 12 months) 46% have reported an increase in their betting frequency upon legalization, and 69% of this audience would place more bets if it became legal in their state. With football season approaching, peak sports gambling is about to kick-off. Giving wagering outlets ample time to become operational and build more interest is crucial for generating the most amount of tax revenue.
The key to Maine receiving the most tax revenue from legalized sports gambling involves giving residents what they want. Online gambling meets this need. Providing this convenience and simplicity ensures that people will bet more. Sportsbooks and casinos will generate more revenue, allowing them to expand operations and hire more employees, creating jobs while yielding more state tax dollars.
New Jersey understood that, which is why it may overtake Nevada as the sports gambling capital of the country soon. Maine legislators are wise to construct the gambling legislation in the Garden State's image.
Alexander Kostin is the founder of AmericanGambler.com, the first free online betting knowledge center in the United States.
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