Jim Fossel: Maine needs more competition in the game

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As lawmakers reconsider how much autonomy Native American tribes in Maine should have, Governor Mills has floated an interesting proposal: give tribes the exclusive right to operate sports betting in the state of Maine. While it’s worth re-examining the structure of tribal sovereignty in Maine – currently they don’t really like it very much – this idea is not only bad in itself, it can be counterproductive both for extending tribal sovereignty and legalize sports betting in Maine. . Even if it fails, it can poison the well on both subjects so completely that the issues themselves are irrelevant for a number of years, leaving the current state system in place for both.

The funny thing is, Mills really should know better than to grant another monopoly for – well, anything – in the state of Maine. The problem with monopolies is that they rarely, if ever, work, especially over the long term. Even in situations where they are (arguably) needed, they often create as many problems as they solve. For an example of this, we only have to look at recent debates about the appalling customer service provided by energy utilities like Versant and Central Maine Power to see how awful monopolies are. Monopolies often take on the worst qualities of the private sector and government, combining the two into a horrible monstrosity that exists only to ensure its own perpetuation.

Why, then, propose the creation of a new monopoly, when the very concept is obviously fundamentally flawed? It’s one thing to allow a private monopoly in an industry where, arguably, it fits logistically, like in energy; it’s quite another to impose one where it’s totally unnecessary and illogical, as Janet Mills is now proposing with sports betting in Maine. Maine has already erred in granting a legal gambling monopoly to the state’s two current casinos in Oxford and Bangor; we should not exacerbate this error exponentially by granting tribes the exclusive right to sports betting in the state.

Now, there is nothing wrong with allowing tribes to operate a sports betting business, but giving them the exclusive right to do so is not the model we should be following. Instead of granting another unnecessary monopoly, Maine should try to break up existing ones whenever possible. So instead of having just two casinos in the state and letting the tribes handle all betting, we should fully open up both markets to anyone who wants to try and get into them.

Big out-of-state gambling interests who rightly oppose granting tribes a monopoly on sports betting would be equally opposed to this expansion of gambling – they don’t want to have to face the hassle of competition in a free game. Marlet. We saw this a few years ago when major fantasy sports operators asked lawmakers to write a set of rules who has done more to protect them from real competition than to protect the public interest in any meaningful way, shape, or form.

Proponents of this bill have made the same specious arguments about fantasy sports that others are currently making about casino games and sports betting, but it’s worth re-examining them whenever they arise. It is often claimed that limiting the market to a few large operators through regulation or monopoly prevents the state from being invaded by smaller gambling interests that would benefit consumers. This, in a nutshell, is nonsense.

There is no reason to believe that reasonable regulation of casino games or sports betting cannot be fairly designed to allow small, medium or large operators to operate in the industry. We are perfectly capable of doing this with other businesses, whether they are restaurants, auto repair shops or the construction industry.

There are companies of different sizes in all of these areas, and they all have to comply with a certain set of regulations or face fines and loss of licenses. This standard model should also be applied to casino games and sports betting, rather than giving another monopoly. We can have a free and fair market for casino games and sports betting like we do for many other industries, but it would take legislators to stand up to the vested interests of the big bucks and really do what’s best for them. people of Maine, rather than focusing on his own re-election.

Jim Fossel, a conservative Gardiner activist, worked for Senator Susan Collins. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @jimfossel


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