Maine's sportsbook to go live earliest by 2023
May 9, 2022
Maine has decided to join the sports betting scene after Governor Janet Mills signed the bill into law on Monday. The bill will add Maine to the long list of more than 30 states that have legalized online betting.
The Hollywood Casino in Bangor’s general manager, Austin Muchmore, said that people have been requesting to place bets on sports for years. Unfortunately, the first legal wagers may not happen until 2024.
"We’re glad to at least finally be able to say, ‘Yes, it’s law,'" he said. "Unfortunately, it’s going to take longer than I think most people expect."
What the bill entails
With the new bill, the state hopes to change its relationship with the tribes. The bill would grant exclusive access to the tribes in Maine.
They then would have special control over the online sports betting industry, potentially amounting to 85% of the revenue. On the other hand, in-person licenses will be given for casinos and off-track betting parlors.
In addition, they will be allowed to change tax laws and collaborate with the state regarding state policies that may affect them.
Milton Champion, the Executive Director of Maine’s Gambling Control Unit, said that the staff will start implementing the law in the summer. They will hire two new supervisors to oversee the state’s sports betting scene.
Afterward, the team will begin to draft applications and regulations as well as process the issuance of the temporary license.
Champion also brought forward the postponement of the start date of the live betting. He cited the rules as the major cause of the delay. As the court will be holding public hearings and requiring written notices, Champion said it could take from eight months to a year and a half for the project to close.
"That timeline depends on the response from the industry," he said. "The go-live date would come sometime after that."
Keeping that in mind, Champion set April 2023 as the earliest opening date. However, even if things take longer, they plan to complete everything by the beginning of 2024.
According to Illinois-based gaming consultancy Victor-Strategies, states have spent an average of 156 days launching in-person betting since legalization. Mobile betting, though, needs longer preparation and takes around 237 days.
If Maine had an exclusive partnership deal with any of the leading sports betting companies, it could have quickened the process. This was the case with New Hampshire. After partnering with DraftKings and gaining support from the state lottery, New Hampshire only spent five months launching live betting after getting legalized in July 2019.
However, Champion keeps his head up and stays optimistic. He said he would be strict in the process, but he would do his best to keep Maine afoot in the sports betting game.
"Compared to other states, while Maine may be low in population and potential revenue from sports wagering, as Director I will not take any shortened measures to regulate this industry," Champion said in an email to the Bangor Daily News.
"In a perfect world, maybe this will be achieved in a smaller amount of time," said Gene Johnson, Executive Vice President of Victor-Strategies.