Exclusive: Maine Tribe in Talks with Mystery Sports Betting Operator

Passamaquoddy Tribe “still in negotiations” with an undisclosed operator for sports betting but wishes success to three other tribes that signed an agreement with Caesars.
Maine Tribe in Talks with Mystery Sports Betting Operator
By
May 11, 2023

Three of the four federally recognized tribes in Maine have entered a mobile sports betting partnership with Caesars Entertainment, marking the first time that an operator has announced plans to launch in the state.

In an exclusive with US Gaming Review, the fourth tribe said it was still negotiating with an undisclosed operator for sports betting but expressed support for the agreement between Caesars and the other three tribes.

Caesars signed a term sheet with the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Mi’kmaq Nation, and Penobscot Nation. The fourth tribe that’s still in talks with a potential operator is the Passamaquoddy Tribe.

The federal government recognizes all four tribes and belong to the Wabanaki Nations. Under sports betting legislation enacted one year ago, each tribe is eligible for a mobile sports betting license.

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Tribe Conducting Their Due Diligence

Passamaquoddy Chief William Nicholas Sr. told US Gaming Review in an exclusive on Wednesday that the tribe “is currently in negotiations with a gaming operator and will announce [a partnership] once we have finished our due diligence.

“Passamaquoddy Tribe hopes the three tribes operating together with Caesars are successful in their endeavor, and we wish them luck. We will continue our discussions with our tentative operator and hope to sign soon. We look forward to the opportunity in Maine and will bring the best to the market here as we can.”

Meanwhile, Caesars Digital President Eric Hession told US Gaming Review in an email Wednesday that the operator was “proud to be chosen by the Houlton Band, Mi’kmaq, and Penobscot as they have championed the legislation to bring significant revenues to their members and the state of Maine.

“We look forward to working with the governor’s office, the Gambling Control Unit and other stakeholders to bring Caesars Rewards and Caesars Sportsbook, our leading mobile sports betting app, to Maine with a strong focus on responsible gaming.”

Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis did not return a message seeking comment.

Whether Caesars will provide sports betting under its Caesars Sportsbook brand or through a custom skin (or skins) is not clear — but its operations in another state could give a clue about its plans for Maine.

Caesars manages tribal casinos in Arizona, California, and North Carolina. Of those states, only Arizona has mobile sports betting. It operates Harrah’s Ak-Chin Hotel & Casino in AZ and has deployed Caesars Sportsbook.

Commercial Licenses Also Available

Under legislation signed last spring by Democratic Governor Janet Mills, mobile sports betting licenses have four-year terms and require a one-time fee of $200,000. The tribes can partner with an operator like Caesars or launch a sports betting platform on their own.

Maine also agreed to issue 10 licenses for retail sportsbooks at commercial casinos, racetracks, and off-track betting facilities. There are two commercial casinos in the state — Oxford Casino Hotel and the Hollywood Casino & Raceway Bangor.

Oxford is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI), which in February 2022 announced that it would shut down its TwinSpires online casino and sportsbook in most of the markets where it had deployed.

Penn Entertainment owns Hollywood Casino & Raceway Bangor, so it’s very likely that Barstool Sportsbook will be coming to Maine at some point.

Maine has not yet launched sports betting. A launch is expected in January 2024.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500

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