Maine Sports Betting Rules Submitted for Final Approval, Could See November Market Launch
Maine is preparing for the launch of online sports betting, with temporary licenses expected to be issued by November.
State regulator the Maine Gambling Control Unit (MGCU) submitted proposed rules on Monday to the Attorney General’s Office for review. It is now readying for the final phases in the anticipated adoption of these rules later this year.
The adoption of sports betting in Maine has not been overly slowed by the recent two-month absence of MGCU executive director Milton Champion. The head regulator was ultimately suspended (without pay) for one week, served earlier this month, after an investigation into inappropriate social media posts he made in May. He returned to work on July 10.
The MGCU was clearly continuing its efforts without its long-term boss. It is now ready to start issuing licenses as soon as the rules are confirmed for adoption by the Attorney General.
“Temporary or initial licenses will be issued on the day of adoption to allow licensees to go live and offer wagers on sports according to law and rule,” a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety Shannon Moss told Associated Press.
The Road to Legalization
The journey to legalizing sports betting in Maine has been a careful one.
The market was made legal when it was signed into law by Governor Janet Mills in May 2022, and it has been effective since August 2, 2022.
After a public hearing in January and a public comment period that concluded recently, the Gambling Control Unit’s submission of final rules to the Attorney General’s Office for legal review now puts the state on course to launch by November.
Milton Champion, director of Maine’s Gambling Control Unit, emphasized the importance of a cautious approach when implementing sports betting.
“I know this is a hot topic. I know everybody wants it out during the Super Bowl, or during March Madness. But let’s face it. It’s just not going to happen that quickly,” Champion stated in January.
In 2022, he had previously estimated sometime between April this year and January 2024. So things are still on track for that target.
Tribal Online Apps to Dominate
Mobile and online wagering is expected to dominate the state’s sports betting market, projected to account for approximately 85% of the total. That follows a similar trend nationally, with bettors overwhelmingly preferring online bets to retail sportsbooks in states where both are available.
This presents a significant revenue opportunity for Native American tribes in the state who have been granted control over the online sports betting market.
Governor Janet Mills’ decision to grant control of the mobile and online sports betting market to Native American tribes was seen as a gesture of reconciliation following her veto threat that halted their previous proposal for greater sovereignty.
Under the legislation, each tribe has the freedom to select its own vendor, potentially leading to up to four licenses being issued for the Penobscot Nation, Passamaquoddy tribes at Indian Township, and Pleasant Point, Houlton Band of Maliseets, and Mi’kmaq.
However, influential gambling association the Sports Betting Alliance has said Maine’s revenue sharing agreement means it has recommended its members do not enter the market. That includes market leaders FanDuel and DraftKings, as well as BetMGM and Fanatics.
Caesars Sportsbook is the only confirmed partner operator in Maine so far, with three tribes signed up to work with the veteran Las Vegas-based operator on their sportsbooks.
Sports betting is projected to generate between $3.8 million and $6.9 million in revenue for the state of Maine, as estimated by Milt Champion.
With 38 states having already legalized sports gambling since the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the door to wagering on sports, Maine is joining the ranks of New England states Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island with legal sports betting markets.
Vermont is also on track to launch its sports betting market in January 2024 after legalizing it earlier this year.