Maine’s Anticipated Sports Betting Launch Set for Summer 2023 or Beyond: Delays and Potential Implications

Maine’s Path to Legalized Sports Betting

Maine Governor Janet Mills signs LD 585 into law

In 2022, Governor Janet Mills of Maine signed LD 585 into law, officially legalizing retail and online sports betting within the state. This significant development allows for both in-person retail betting at casinos and off-track sportsbooks, as well as online sports betting controlled by four federally recognized Native American tribes in Maine. The tribes will have the opportunity to form partnerships with popular online sportsbooks such as FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook.

The Delayed Start Date and Tribes-State Relationships

While the legalization of sports betting is indeed a step forward for Maine, the actual implementation timeline is still uncertain. Currently, there is no specific start date set for sports operators to begin their operations. It is essential to consider that apart from the legalization process, the dynamics between the tribes and the state will play a significant role in the actualization of legalized sports betting in Maine.

Regrettably, Maine sports bettors may have to wait before they can access retail or online sportsbooks, missing out on major American sporting events such as the Super Bowl and March Madness.

The Long Road From Legalization to Actualization

Delays and Hurdles

While some states have achieved relatively quick progress in moving from legalization to launching sportsbooks, Maine has encountered hurdles that have slowed down the process. These delays can be attributed to various challenges faced by betting regulators in the state. However, there is still hope that active sportsbooks may become a reality in Maine as early as the Summer of 2023, aligning with a significant portion of the baseball season and the 2023-2024 NFL and NBA seasons.

Quoting Maine Gambling Control Unit Executive Director Milton Champion

Milton Champion, the Executive Director of the Maine Gambling Control Unit, acknowledges the growing interest in sports betting but emphasizes that the process cannot be expedited to coincide with high-profile events like the Super Bowl or March Madness. He recognizes the fervor surrounding the subject but explains that the implementation timeline cannot be accelerated to that extent.

With Maine’s long journey towards legal sports gambling, it is unfortunate that full realization is still pending, despite being at the precipice.

Regulation Development and Benchmarking

Champion initiated the process of creating regulations as early as 2019, when he began drafting rules for the original sports betting bill that was later vetoed by Governor Janet Mills. After Governor Mills signed the 2022 bill, giving Native American tribes control of the online sports betting market, Champion had to start afresh, writing new regulations to align with the current legislation.

Taking inspiration from states like Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, Champion and the Maine Gambling Control Unit used their regulations as benchmarks for crafting Maine’s own rules for legal sports gambling.

Maine Legal Sports Betting Specifics

Distinctive Aspects of Maine’s Sports Betting Rules

While the legal sports betting rules in Maine will generally resemble regulations in other states where betting is allowed, certain distinct aspects will set them apart. Champion highlights a few critical differences, particularly regarding advertising.

For instance, Maine sportsbooks will be prohibited from promoting free bets through advertising campaigns. This restriction aims to prevent an excessive inundation of gambling-focused messaging within the state. However, sportsbooks will still have the opportunity to promote their attractive bonus offers on their respective platforms.

Champion also emphasizes additional specific measures that will shape legal sports betting in Maine. This includes provisions for player data protection and a focus on promoting responsible gambling among Maine residents. Each licensed operator will be required to submit a gaming proposal that demonstrates adherence to at least ten criteria outlining responsible gambling guidelines. Moreover, sportsbooks must enable individuals with joint bank accounts, such as spouses, to restrict the other account holder from engaging in problem gambling.

While some of these provisions may appear stringent, Champion explains that the aim is to facilitate a smooth and frictionless launch of sports gambling in Maine. Establishing clear rules and regulations in advance allows operators to comply promptly, ensuring a speedy and trouble-free introduction of sports betting within the state.

Optimistic Expectations for Legal Sports Betting in Maine

Revenue Potential and Taxation

Despite the delays in bringing legal sportsbooks to Maine, the financial prospects look promising. Projections estimate that legal sports betting could generate revenue ranging from $3.8 to $6.9 million. This significant income would be added to the already substantial $64 million generated by legal gambling in Maine during 2022. Furthermore, tax revenue will be substantial with a 16% state tax imposed on mobile sportsbooks and a 10% tax applied to brick-and-mortar sports gambling providers.

Tourism Revenue and Maine’s Appeal

If legal sports betting becomes a reality in Maine by summer, tourism revenue is expected to contribute significantly to the state’s overall profits. With a population of only 1.4 million residents, Maine’s potential for generating revenue solely from its citizens is limited. However, the state is renowned as a popular vacation destination for outdoor activities, making it an enticing prospect for tourists. Thus, the eventual presence of legal sportsbooks could attract visitors seeking to enjoy the natural beauty of Maine while engaging in sports gambling activities.

In conclusion, while the road to legalized sports betting in Maine has been lengthy, the state is now on the verge of realizing its goal. Despite various delays and the absence of a set start date, the prospects for thriving sportsbooks in the future are promising. With clear regulations, responsible gambling measures, and the potential for significant revenue generation, Maine is poised to embrace legal sports betting and capitalize on its benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When will retail and online sportsbooks be open in Maine?

As of now, an exact start date for sports operators in Maine has not been determined. The process of launching sportsbooks is subject to various factors, including the establishment of relationships between the tribes and the state. Although it is unfortunate that sportsbooks will not be operational in time for significant events like the Super Bowl and March Madness, there is hope that they will become available by the summer of 2023.

2. How did Maine develop its regulations for legal sports betting?

Maine drew inspiration from other states such as Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio to develop its regulations for legal sports betting. By studying and benchmarking against existing rules, Maine’s Gambling Control Unit aimed to create a framework that aligns with successful models while customizing it to suit the state’s specific needs.

3. Are there any unique aspects to Maine’s sports betting rules?

Yes, Maine’s sports betting rules have certain distinctive elements. For instance, Maine sportsbooks will be prohibited from advertising free bets, aiming to prevent an overwhelming influx of gambling-related messaging within the state. Additionally, these rules emphasize player data protection and responsible gambling practices, requiring licensed operators to submit comprehensive gaming proposals outlining their commitment to these principles.

4. What are the revenue expectations for sports betting in Maine?

Projections suggest that legal sports betting in Maine could generate revenue ranging from $3.8 million to $6.9 million. This boost in income would supplement the substantial $64 million already earned through legal gambling in the state during 2022. Moreover, tax revenue from sportsbooks, both online and brick-and-mortar establishments, will contribute significantly to the state’s financial resources.

5. How will legal sports betting impact tourism in Maine?

Legal sports betting in Maine could attract tourists and contribute to the state’s revenue from tourism. As Maine is known for its picturesque landscapes and outdoor activities, visitors seeking to engage in sports gambling while enjoying the natural beauty of the state may contribute to the overall success of legal sportsbooks in Maine.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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