Maine is on track to launch sports betting next month once the state’s attorney general has completed his review of final rules governing the vertical, the head of the state’s regulatory agency told US Gaming Review on Tuesday.
Milton Champion, Executive Director of the Maine Gambling Control Unit (MGCU), said regulators are “shooting for early to mid-November” to launch sports betting in Maine — more than one year after Democratic Governor Janet Mills signed legislation authorizing sports betting.
MGCU is an office within the state Department of Public Safety.
When asked what still needed to be completed before sports betting could launch in the Pine Tree State, Champion cited the “legal review which is underway by [AG Aaron Frey’s] office.”
Champion also confirmed that Caesars Sportsbook is so far the only operator to have applied for a license from the MGCU. Three of the state’s four federally recognized tribes announced they signed a partnership for mobile sports betting with Caesars in May.
The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Mi’kmaq Nation, and Penobscot Nation have signed a term sheet with Caesars. A fourth tribe, the Passamaquoddy, is still in talks with a potential operator. None of the tribes are authorized to open a retail sportsbook.
Retail Also Moving Forward
Under the bill signed by Mills, ten licenses for retail sportsbooks are available for commercial casinos, racetracks, and off-track betting (OTB) facilities. The two commercial properties in the state are the Oxford Casino Hotel and the Hollywood Casino & Raceway Bangor.
According to a report Monday by the Portland Press Herald, at least three retail sportsbooks at OTB locations will not be ready to accept wagers if the market opens in November. Instead, they will reportedly be ready in December or sometime in early 2024.
The OTB facilities in question that won’t be ready by November include the Cumberland Fairgrounds and Favorites franchises in Sanford and Waterville, according to the newspaper. The fairgrounds are reportedly relocating their betting operations.
Winners Circle, an OTB facility in Lewiston, appears ready to launch in-person sports betting whenever the market opens.
Champion also told the outlet that BetMGM had signed a partnership with two gaming properties for retail sportsbooks, but that the operator had not yet applied for a license.
Although neither Champion nor the newspaper identified which properties BetMGM had partnered with, a report by WABI-TV in Bangor on Tuesday suggests BetMGM had partnered with Favorites and will open retail sportsbooks in Sanford and Waterville — after they secure a license.
The news that BetMGM could launch in Maine is a little bit of a surprise. Last spring, BetMGM and three other operators that collectively form the Sports Betting Alliance (SBA) said they would not launch in Maine, in part because of the small size of the market.
DraftKings, Fanatics, and FanDuel are the other SBA members.
If DraftKings and FanDuel were to reconsider, they would likely benefit from some synergies. Consider that southern Maine forms part of the Boston media market, along with parts of Connecticut and Rhode Island. That means spending on advertising in the Boston area is likely to drive interest in both brands once the Maine market launches.