The head of Maine’s Gambling Control Unit expressed optimism Wednesday that sports betting in the state could be launched by November.

The time line from Milt Champion came on the day his agency published a revised draft of rules governing sports betting in Maine. The rules, which deal with the details of how sports betting will operate here, had to be revised after a first draft released in January resulted in nearly 600 public comments.

The public and gambling industry now have until June 16 to comment on the revised rules. If those comments don’t lead to substantial changes, the rules will be sent to the Office of the Maine Attorney General for approval. Champion is hopeful that his office won’t need to publish the rules a third time.

“I think we have a good product at this point,” he said. “I just don’t see any rhyme or reason to prolong this anymore. But we’ll see how the comments come out.”

The attorney general’s office will have up to 120 days to approve the rules once it receives them. If that happens in June, the attorney general’s approval could come by late October, and sports betting in Maine could go live soon thereafter.

“Best-case scenario, mid-November, we could go live. We could be live by Thanksgiving,” Champion said. “Even if the attorney general took the full 120 days, that still (enables) me to go live before Thanksgiving. What a great present that would be.”


Maine lawmakers approved a bill last spring, signed by Gov. Janet Mills on May 2, 2022, paving the way for Maine to join more than two dozen states with legalized sports betting. While many states have been quicker than Maine to launch sports betting once it became law, Champion and his staff of two have been drafting and revising rules for Maine in hopes that the state’s launch will go smoothly.

The betting market that awaits Mainers is beginning to take shape. This month, Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis announced a partnership between his tribe, the Maliseet and Micmac nations, and Caesars Sportsbook to operate their share of the mobile betting market. The law permitting sports betting in Maine gives exclusive rights to the online sports betting market to the state’s four tribes, and allows them to negotiate with sports betting providers. The fourth tribe, the Passamaquoddy, has yet to announce it has struck a deal.

The online market is far more lucrative than in-person betting. Bets placed on mobile apps accounted for 87 percent of all sports bets placed nationwide in 2021, according to the American Gaming Association.

The partnership between the three tribes and Caesars is not finalized, as the national sportsbook still needs to apply for and be awarded a license to operate in Maine. Champion also would have to approve the partnership if the deal awards Caesars 30% to 40% of the tribe’s revenue. Francis declined to state the financial terms of the partnership, but said the Penobscot, Maliseet and Micmac tribes, who negotiated together, “will benefit equally.”

“We think this is the first time in the United States that three tribes have joined hands and gone with one partner. We think that’s good in a lot of ways, not only in our coalition as tribes but for the state of Maine,” said Francis, who added that “around six” companies approached the three tribes for business. “(Caesars has) a great track record with tribes.”

Passamaquoddy Chief William Nicholas responded with a brief statement when asked about his tribe’s negotiations.


“(The) Passamaquoddy Tribe is in current negotiations with a provider and should be closing in on an agreement soon,” he said in an email. “We anticipate making an announcement once finished with our agreement and due diligence.”


The remaining mobile contract won’t go to one of the industry giants. The newly formed Sports Betting Alliance, made up of DraftKings, FanDuel, Fanatics and BetMGM, said this month that it won’t be pursuing business in Maine.

Steven Silver, the chair of the Gambling Control Board, said the 30% to 40% revenue cap likely was the major factor in dissuading the large betting providers, and that smaller ones could be emboldened to jump into the mix without bigger companies to compete against.

“It will definitely change the calculus,” he said. “This is an opportunity to be No. 1 or 2 in the state. It may alter negotiations. It’s certainly a unique position to be in, where the rest of the books know there’s only one shot.”

In addition to 30% to 40% of the gross revenue going to the providers, 10% of sports betting revenue (after payouts to bettors) will go to the state, which Champion in 2022 estimated to be $3.8 million to $6 million annually.


Champion’s target date is contingent on several factors, one of which is the upcoming public comment period. The first draft of the rules generated 581 written comments after their Jan. 11 release, with many concerning items such as grammar and language, Champion said. He’s hoping to avoid a repeat of that going forward.

“If it’s something that we can pick up later that’s not really detrimental to getting this thing going, I would reserve your comments until a later time,” he said. “All you’re going to do is prolong this even longer.”

Champion also said businesses interested in participating in sports betting in Maine should apply sooner rather than later. He said his office still hasn’t received any applications from providers, including Caesars. Applications for licenses take months to be vetted and approved, and he said that if providers and other companies wait into the summer, the live launch could be pushed back even further.

“If we get 30 applications in the week before adoption, I don’t have 20 investigators, I don’t have 10 license folks to review this stuff,” he said. “Get them in now … don’t wait until October. I just don’t know that I’ll have the staff to be looking through this stuff.”

One hang-up for interested providers may have been the strict regulations in the first rules regarding advertising, which were eased in the revised rules. Celebrities, initially banned from advertising sports betting at all in Maine, now are permitted to do so as long as the ads don’t target minors. A rule that companies could only advertise on TV during the event they’re taking wagers on also was removed.

“It makes it a lot more reasonable,” Silver said. “Those (advertising restrictions) have softened quite a bit, which may make them more palatable.”

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