Maine Sports Betting Officials Target November Launch

Posted on: May 18, 2023, 02:58h. 

Last updated on: May 19, 2023, 01:56h.

Maine sports betting could be up and running as soon as Thanksgiving, as state gaming regulators say the timeline to launch is coming together.

Maine sports betting online sportsbook tribes
Milton Champion, executive director of the Maine Gambling Control Unit, believes legal, regulated sports betting could be operational come November 2023. The state gaming regulator says the rules overseeing gambling are nearing final approval. (Image: Bangor Daily News)

Speaking with the Portland Press Herald, Milton Champion, the executive director of the Maine Gambling Control Unit, said his agency this week published the latest draft of the proposed rules that will govern sports betting in the state. Maine lawmakers and Gov. Janet Mills (D) authorized sports gambling a year ago this month.

The state’s forthcoming gaming expansion will allow Maine’s four tribes to partner with online sportsbooks to take bets over the internet. Maine’s sports betting law additionally allows for the state’s two brick-and-mortar casinos, Hollywood Casino Bangor and Oxford Casino Hotel, to run on-site retail sportsbooks.

The state’s licensed racetracks and off-track betting facilities also offer retail sports gambling licenses.

Maine Sports Betting Timeline

The Maine Gambling Control Unit’s proposed sports betting rules are currently subject to another public comment period that runs through June 16. After that comment period ends and the state gaming regulatory agency decides whether to further amend the rules, the regulations move to the state attorney general’s office.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey’s office will then have 120 days to formally approve the sports betting conditions.

“Best-case scenario, we could go live mid-November. We could be live by Thanksgiving,” Champion explained.

Even if the attorney general takes the full 120 days, that still allows me to go live before Thanksgiving. What a great present that would be,” Champion added.

Unlike many other state gaming regulatory boards and commissions, Maine’s Gambling Control Unit has just two other employees besides Champion. The chief gaming regulator says his staff of two has been laboring to finalize the governing sports betting conditions after the agency fielded more than 600 comments from the public and gaming industry following the January release of the initial rules draft.

“I think we have a good product at this point. I don’t see any rhyme or reason to prolong this anymore. But we’ll see how the comments come out,” Champion explained.

Caesars Poised to Dominate Market

Maine’s sports betting law provided the exclusive rights to online sportsbooks to the state’s four tribes. Three of those tribes, the Penobscot, Maliseet, and Micmac nations, have united to partner with Caesars Sportsbook to handle their sports betting operations. The state’s fourth tribe, the Passamaquoddy, has yet to announce a sportsbook partner.

Maine’s liberalization of sports betting is primarily designed to provide an economic stimulus to the Native Americans. The state law requires the commercial sportsbook operators that the tribes partner with retain a maximum of 40% of the gross revenue. Another 10% is to go to the state as a tax, and the remaining 50% of the revenue stays with the tribes.

“We think this is the first time in the United States that three tribes have joined hands and gone with one partner. We think that’s good in a lot of ways, not only in our coalition as tribes but for the state of Maine,” said Kirk Francis, chief of the Penobscot Nation.

Francis said the trio of tribes fielded about a half-dozen bids from interested sportsbooks.