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Maine sports betting nears the finish line

3 Oct 2023

By Jarrod LeBlanc
Maine could launch sports betting in early November.

Maine could launch sports betting in early November.

The wait is almost over for sports betting enthusiasts in Maine.

According to Milton Champion, the state’s Gambling Control Unit’s Executive Director, anyone 21 years and older within the Pine Tree State will be able to begin placing retail and online sports bets between 5-15 November. The exact date will be based on when the Attorney General’s office finishes its final legal review of the proposed adopted rules. After which, Champion will forward the findings to the Secretary of State’s office, and once that office signs off on the adopted rules then gambling can begin in Maine.

When asked if there will be a soft launch for retail and online sports wagering, as there has been in other states, Champion told Casino City that, “operators will be able to go live with issuance of a temporary license on the day of the adoption.”

Retail sports betting will be allowed at off-track betting facilities and commercial racetracks as well as the two casinos in the state, Oxford Casino & Hotel and Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway Bangor. In total, there will be a max of 10 retail licenses issued by the state.

Despite the fact that Churchill Downs Incorporated runs the Oxford Casino, while PENN Entertainment manages the Hollywood Casino, each operator must still submit applications for licenses, which according to Champion, “will be looked at separate in respect to those that oversee sports wagering for those businesses.”

As for mobile sports betting, the four tribes – the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, and the Penobscot Nation, and the Passamaquoddy Tribe – own the exclusive rights for all online wagering, per the bill signed into effect by Governor Janet Mills in May 2022. At this time, it is known that the first three tribes have partnered up with Caesars Sportsbook to handle all of the wagers, while according to Champion it is unknown at this time which operator will be pairing up with the Passamaquoddy Tribe.

To date, Pioneer Gaming, which operates off-track betting facilities in Waterville and Sanford, is the only operator that has submitted a retail license application, while Caesars Entertainment and BetMGM are the only online applicants.

There is no deadline by which operators must submit a license request. Retail operators must pay an initial fee of $4,000 for a license, while online operators must pay $200,000.

Regardless of whether the wagers are made in person or on a mobile device, no bettors will be allowed to place money on in-state college teams, per Maine’s regulations.

Retail and online sports wagering is expected to be a significant revenue producer for the state.

“Projections are from $3.8 to $6.9 million, according to the Oxford Economics Analysis from 2017,” said Champion of the report commissioned by the American Gaming Association.

Maine will join Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island as the New England states that currently allow legal sports wagering. Vermont legalized betting on sports in June 2023, and it’s expected to go live in 2024.

When asked which of the New England states is Maine modeling itself after in regards to how it conducts retail and online sports betting, Champion said, “we worked our rules from six to eight other states nationwide, some of which were, Colorado, Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Montana, Wyoming, and Mississippi.”
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