Maine’s Gambling Control Unit published a revised set of rules on sports betting yesterday that could bring legal wagering on sports to the Pine Tree State as early as mid-November, according to the bureau’s Executive Director Milton Champion. The first draft of the regulations was published in January but had to undergo various changes after it attracted 581 comments from Mainers. Residents and representatives of the local gaming industry must comment on the amended rules by mid-June. The rules will then head over to Attorney General Aaron Frey‘s office for consideration if no substantial changes are required.
Mr. Champion is confident the rules would not require another revision. Aaron Frey’s office is granted a maximum time frame of 120 days to consider the revised regulations after receiving them, which means they could be approved by the end of October. If everything goes according to plan, legal sports betting could launch in the state by Thanksgiving.
Three Maine Tribes Have Already Secured Partnership with Caesars
Things are looking up for punters from the Pine Tree State as earlier this month the Micmac, Maliseet, and Penobscot tribal nations unveiled a partnership with Caesars Sportsbook. The deal would enable them to snag a substantial share of the local mobile wagering market. The Passamaquoddy tribal nation is yet to unveil a partnership. The four local tribes have exclusive rights to operate remote sports wagering in the state in partnership with betting providers like the above-mentioned Caesars Sportsbook.
The Micmac, Maliseet, and Penobscot are yet to finalize their deal as Caesars Sportsbook must first procure a license from the state regulator. Approval from the chair of Maine’s Gambling Control Unit, Milton Champion, would also be necessary if a partnership awards the sports betting provider 30% to 40% of the tribal nations’ revenue. The exact financial details of the partnership between Caesars and the three tribes are yet to be revealed. With that in mind, Kirk Francis, Chief of the Penobscot Indian Nation, said the three tribes would enjoy equal benefits.
Three tribal nations joining hands and teaming up with the same betting provider is a precedent in the country’s history, according to Chief Francis, who also revealed the tribes were approached by six companies before they eventually settled for Caesars Sportsbook. The decision was driven by the company’s excellent track record of working with tribal nations across the United States. As for the Passamaquoddy, they are currently negotiating with a sports betting operator and are inching closer to securing their deal, according to their leader William Nicholas.
Fourth Betting Contract Unlikely to Go to a Major Betting Provider
Chief Nicholas did not disclose the name of the company the tribe is negotiating with. What is known for the moment is that the fourth remote betting license will not go to one of the major betting providers dominating the US market. Fanatics, DraftKings, BetMGM, and FanDuel confirmed earlier this month they were not interested in securing a license in the Pine Tree State. Steven Silver, who chairs the Maine Gambling Control Board, explains this lack of interest with the lower revenue cap (30% to 40%) imposed on licensed providers.
Smaller and emerging companies are more likely to jump on the bandwagon when they have no betting giants to compete against, Mr Silver said. The stringent restrictions on betting advertising published in the first draft of the regulations may also have dissuaded some operators from pursuing licenses in Maine. Some of these restrictions were subsequently scratched in the revised version of the rules.
As for the state, Maine will collect 10% of the gross betting revenue. Governor Janet T. Mills approved a bill to legalize sports wagering in early May 2022. Attorney General Champion estimated at the time that the legal sports betting sector would contribute between $3.8 million and $6 million to the state coffers each year.