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Sports betting likely months away in Maine

Nicole Ogrysko
Maine Public
Milt Champion, director of Maine's Gambling Control Unit, detailed the proposed rules for a new sports betting law, which state officials released Jan. 11, 2023.

State officials released draft rules Wednesday that explain how Maine will implement a new sports betting law.

The law, which Gov. Janet Mills signed last spring, legalizes sports betting and gives the four tribes in Maine exclusive rights to online wagering. But it could be months before those bets are legal.

At the earliest, sports betting could go live in April, said Milt Champion, director of Maine's Gambling Control Unit. But it could take until next January to address public comments, finalize the rules and issue licenses to both in-person and online betting providers.

"I know everybody wants it either out during the Super Bowl or out during March Madness," he told reporters Wednesday at the Department of Public Safety in Augusta. "But let's face it, it's just not going to happen."

Fantasy contests took a year for Maine to implement, Champion said, after those rules were subject to multiple revisions and public comment.

Still, he said he's hopeful sports wagering will be up and running in time for Maine's summer tourism season.

"If they want to sit by their campsite with their iPhones and bet on the Red Sox game, it would be great for them to have the ability to do that," he said. "Because when they're in Maine and they make a transaction in Maine, Maine gets the revenue."

Under the new law, Maine will receive about 10% of the revenue from sports bets. Projections by Champion's office and betting sportsbooks estimate that Maine could bring in anywhere from $3.8 million to $6.9 million in annual revenue through sports wagering, he said.

The tribes will receive at least 50% from online bets. They will choose a provider, such FanDuel or DraftKings, to operate mobile sports betting apps on their behalf. Those entities will receive at 30% of revenue from sports betting, though they can request up to 40%, according to proposed rules.

Champion said each of the tribes could select their own online betting provider, or all or a few of them could agree to choose an operator and determine how to split up the funds between or amongst themselves. It's unclear which betting providers the tribes are speaking to, and Champion said the state won't know until they apply for a license.

A public hearing on the proposed sports betting rules is scheduled for Jan. 31. The hearing, as well as a later written public comment period, could draw a wide response from the sports betting industry and other lobbyists.