Excitement is building among Maine bettors as officials aim to launch sports wagering in the state by November. Milt Champion, the head of Maine's Gambling Control Unit, expressed optimism about the timeline during a recent announcement.
Champion's statement came as his agency published a revised draft of rules governing sports betting in the Pine Tree State, following nearly 600 public comments on the initial draft released in January.
Members of the public and the gambling industry now have until June 16 to provide feedback on the revised rules. If the comments do not lead to significant changes, the rules will be sent to the Office of the Maine Attorney General for approval.
Champion remains hopeful that this will be the final revision before implementation. As per Central Maine, he stated: "I think we have a good product at this point. I just don't see any rhyme or reason to prolong this anymore. But we'll see how the comments come out."
Once the attorney general's office receives the rules, it will have a maximum of 120 days to approve them. Under the current timeline, Maine could see live sports betting by late October or mid-November, depending on the process.
“Best-case scenario, mid-November, we could go live. We could be live by Thanksgiving,” Champion said, as per the cited source. “Even if the attorney general took the full 120 days, that still (enables) me to go live before Thanksgiving. What a great present that would be.”
Maine passed a sports betting bill in spring last year, signed by Governor Janet Mills in May 2022, paving the way for the state to join the ranks of over two dozen others with legalized sports betting. While some states were quicker to launch sports betting after legalization, Champion and his team have been diligently working on drafting and revising rules to ensure a smooth launch for Maine.
In the meantime, the betting market in Maine is gradually taking shape. This month, Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis announced a partnership between his tribe, the Maliseet and Micmac nations, and Caesars Sportsbook to operate their share of the mobile betting market.
The law grants exclusive rights for online sports betting to Maine's four tribes, allowing them to negotiate with sports betting providers. However, the fourth tribe, the Passamaquoddy, has yet to announce a partnership.
Gov. Mill signed sports betting into law last year
The online market holds significant potential for revenue in the state, as it accounted for 87% of all sports bets placed nationwide in 2021, according to the American Gaming Association.
However, in a surprising turn, the recently formed Sports Betting Alliance, consisting of industry giants DraftKings, FanDuel, Fanatics, and BetMGM, announced that they will not pursue business in Maine.
Steven Silver, the chair of the Gambling Control Board, believes that the revenue cap of 30% to 40% likely deterred the larger betting providers. However, this opens up opportunities for smaller companies to enter the market and potentially become dominant players.
Under the rules, providers will get a 30% to 40% share of gross revenue, and an additional 10% is earmarked for the state. Champion estimated that this arrangement could generate $3.8 million to $6 million in annual revenue for Maine.
Champion also emphasized that the timeline for launching sports betting depends on various factors, including the upcoming public comment period. He urged businesses interested in participating to submit their applications sooner rather than later, as the application process takes months to complete. Delaying applications could further push back the live launch.