Maine Gambling Director Shows Optimism For Sports Betting
The head of Maine’s Gambling Control Unit, Milt Champion, has expressed optimism that sports betting could be launched in the state by November. This comes as the agency published a revised draft of rules governing sports betting in Maine after receiving nearly 600 public comments on the initial draft released in January.
The revised rules are now open for public and industry comments until June 16. If the comments do not result in substantial changes, the rules will be sent to the Office of the Maine Attorney General for approval. Champion is hopeful that there won’t be a need to publish the rules for a third time.
If the rules receive approval from the attorney general’s office in June, the launch of sports betting in Maine could take place by late October, with a best-case scenario of going live by mid-November. The timeline aligns with Maine lawmakers’ approval of a bill in 2022, which paved the way for legalized sports betting in the state.
The online sports betting market in Maine is of particular interest, with exclusive rights granted to the state’s four tribes. The Penobscot Nation, Maliseet, and Micmac nations have partnered with Caesars Sportsbook to operate their share of the mobile betting market, pending the award of a license to Caesars. The fourth tribe, the Passamaquoddy, is still in negotiations. The online market is expected to be more lucrative than in-person betting, accounting for 87% of all sports bets placed nationwide in 2021.
Notably, the newly formed Sports Betting Alliance, consisting of DraftKings, FanDuel, Fanatics, and BetMGM, has announced that it will not pursue business in Maine. This decision may create opportunities for smaller betting providers to enter the market.
However, Champion advises interested providers to apply for licenses sooner rather than later to avoid potential delays in the live launch. He also emphasized the importance of avoiding comments that are not detrimental to the process to expedite the launch.
The target date for launching sports betting in Maine is contingent on various factors, including the public comment period and the timely submission of applications by providers. Champion encouraged providers to apply promptly, as his office needs sufficient time to review applications before the launch.