Red Tape Delaying Sports Betting in Maine

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Jaquan Blair #11 of the Maine Black Bears. Chris Thelen/Getty Images/AFP

Maine Governor Janet Mills signed a law permitting licensed sportsbooks to operate in the Pine Tree State but bureaucratic hurdles have delayed the much-anticipated launch.

Rules and Regs 

For whatever the reason, the process to begin drafting the rules and regulations for sports betting in Maine cannot begin until 90 days after a legislative session has ended, which in this case, was on April 25th.  

Why the three-month moratorium? You would have to ask the legislature but it only delays the timeline for sports betting in the state. It is expected to take eight to 18 months for the state to draft the rules and licensing regulations allowing the approved operators to begin taking wagers.  

In the interim, the creation of a bureau and the people to run it will be a chief priority as there needs to be a body to oversee the implementation of the industry and serve as a watchdog to ensure the operators are running a tight ship. 

Tribes Get Online Monopoly 

Initially, there were no provisions for state casinos and off-track betting parlors to be able to “make a book” at their establishments but thanks to the efforts of Penn National Gaming, owner of Barstool Sportsbook, this has been reversed.  

Penn National is a major player in the world of online gambling but also owns the Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway in Bangor, which means they have a vested interest in getting sports betting to their establishment. 

Austin Muchmore, Hollywood Casino general manager in Bangor, said his customers have been clamoring for sports betting for years. “We’re glad to at least finally be able to say, ‘Yes, it’s law,'” he told WABI-TV. “Unfortunately, it’s going to take longer than I think most people expect.” 

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However, the big money is online and that right has been reserved for the indigenous Maine tribes that will ostensibly partner with national sportsbook operators. In many instances, studies have shown that a whopping 95 percent of all sports betting is done online while only five percent is through brick-and-mortar properties. 

“This law provides meaningful economic opportunities for the Wabanaki Nations. It incentivizes investment in Tribal communities, and it formalizes a collaboration process on a policy that sets the foundation for a stronger relationship in the future,” said Governor Mills in a statement. 

The Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Maliseet Tribes are those that will benefit immediately when the sports betting launch is given the green light.  

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But in the meantime, Maine residents looking for action can continue to do what they’ve already been doing – drive across the border to New Hampshire to make a legal bet.  

Milton Champion, the executive director of Maine’s gambling control unit, said, “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.” 

Sports betting in Maine won’t really begin until 2024 unless external influences can drive the agenda at a more rapid pace. Until then, Maine will be among an increasingly smaller section of the country without a sports betting platform in place. 

Bookmakers Review will continue to monitor this story and update our readers as events unfold.