Maine prepares for online sports betting launch in November

Maine is gearing up for the highly anticipated launch of online sports betting as temporary licenses are expected to be issued by November, according to officials. The Maine Gambling Control Unit has submitted proposed rules governing the activity to the Attorney General’s Office for review, and the state is making preparations for the anticipated adoption of these rules later this year.

“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,” stated Shannon Moss, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The legislation, signed into law by Governor Janet Mills in May 2022 and effective since August 2, 2022, has paved the way for sports betting in the state. 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.

Milt 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.

Mobile and online wagering is expected to dominate the state’s sports betting market, projected to account for approximately 85% of the total. This presents a significant revenue opportunity for Native American tribes in the state who have been granted control over the online sports betting market.

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.

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.

In addition to the tribes, Maine’s existing casinos in Bangor and Oxford, as well as off-track betting parlors, will have the opportunity to request licenses for sports betting.

Sports betting is projected to generate between $3.8 million and $6.9 million in revenue for the state of Maine, adding to the $64 million generated from casinos and other legal gambling activities in 2022, 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 that already allow the activity.

Vermont is also on track to launch its sports betting market in January 2024 after legalizing it earlier this year.