Maine Lawmaker Making Push For In-Person Sports Betting

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General view of the Maine State Legislature Office in Augusta, Maine. Photo from the Maine's State Museum official Facebook.

Despite being legalized two years ago, in-person sports betting remains unavailable in Maine.

Although online sports betting was introduced in the state in November, there has been no in-person sports betting at the state’s two casinos.

However, Senator Joe Baldacci wants to do something about it. According to a recent report from News Center Maine, Baldacci wrote in a letter to Milton Champion, the executive director of Maine’s sports betting regulatory agency, inquiring about the stagnation.

In the letter, Baldacci expressed his concern, stating, “It is both surprising and unacceptable that not a single retail operator has commenced operations,” he said. He emphasized that launching in-person sports betting is crucial for Hollywood Casino in Bangor, as it could significantly increase revenue for the city.

In May 2022, Maine legalized sports betting, and online sports betting became operational in the state in November 2023. Top-rated sportsbooks like Caesars Sportsbook and DraftKings are both active in Maine. However, there is currently no official timeline for the launch of retail sportsbooks in the state.

Hollywood Casino currently employs over 300 people, pays the City of Bangor $2.2 million annually (which covers the mortgage on the Cross Insurance Center), and contributes more than $25 million per year in tax revenues to the state. Despite the delay, Baldacci remains committed to advocating for a swift implementation of retail sports betting at Hollywood Casino.

Maine’s Situation Is Considered Unique

It’s interesting to note that most states have experienced quicker turnarounds from legalizing in-person sports betting to its actual launch. For example, Massachusetts achieved this in approximately six months.

However, Maine’s situation appears unique, and some speculate that the delays could be intentional. Baldacci also highlights the need for greater transparency and public accountability in the process, suggesting that legislative action may be necessary to address the regulatory barriers faced by Maine’s casinos.

Casino Bill Recently Died in the House

Baldacci’s letter comes on the heels of the failure of LD 1777, which was Maine’s bid to legalize online casino gambling in 2024.

Introduced by Rep. Laura Supica, the bill aimed to grant exclusive online casino operator licenses to the Wabanaki Nations tribe in Maine. But the state House of Representatives rejected the bill, effectively ending its chances of passing this year.

While there’s a possibility that a similar bill may resurface in 2025, state lawmakers won’t reconvene until next year, leaving the efforts in limbo for now.

Senator Baldacci Says Legislative Action Is Needed

Although Hollywood casino leaders appreciate Baldacci’s efforts, he says nothing will change without legislative action. Baldacci blames the significant number of regulatory obstacles preventing Maine’s casinos from entering the sports betting market.

“The executive director has no oversight. There is no oversight, there is no public accountability, and that needs to change,” Baldacci said. “This needs to be an open, accountable, transparent, responsive effort.”

Champion has yet to respond to Baldacci’s letter. We’ll keep you posted.