Maine Sports Betting Remains on Track for 2023 Rollout

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jul 25, 2023 12:00 AM
Maine sports betting is expected to roll out in 2023.

Despite concerns that its launch timeline could be pushed back, Maine sports betting reportedly remains on track to debut sometime in 2023.

Though an exact date hasn't yet been released, sports betting in Maine could go live as soon as November. This misses the initially intended mark of August. The state wanted to be ready in time for 2023 NFL betting as well as 2023 college football betting.

Still, a November launch would leave plenty of time in both the college football and NFL seasons. What's more, it is almost right in line with the start of the 2023-24 NBA season as well as the 2023-24 NHL season. So while November may not be the absolute best time for legal sports betting to go live, it's far from an inopportune window.

Of course, this all assumes that Maine doesn't experience any setbacks during their rollout of legal sports gambling. That may technically be asking a lot. After all, they've already encountered at least one roadblock. And that hangup was the entire reason many thought Maine sports betting would be delayed until 2024.

Why was the Debut of Maine Sports Betting in Danger of Getting Delayed?

Experts throughout the industry originally assumed The Pine Tree State would push back their sports betting launch because of issues with the Maine Gambling Control Unit's Executive Director Milton Champion. He was placed on leave back in May for what were deemed "problematic social media posts," and most believed the MGCU would struggle to make any headway towards a rollout in his absence.

This concern stemmed from what was termed "indefinite paid leave," as first reported by the Portland Press Herald. Without a definitive timeline for Champion's return, it wasn't clear how the sports betting launch would be impacted. Many assumed the MGCU's Executive Director was in for a lengthy absence given the nature of his social media posts. Disciplinary action was taken after he posted a pair of tweets to an account with 66 followers that contained "sexist and racist undertones."

In the end, Champion wound up stepping away for more than a month, a development that even he admitted could put the state's sports betting launch in jeopardy. As it turns out, though, Maine is on pace to do the exact opposite.

Maine is Actually On Track to Beat Projected Sports Gambling Timeline

The Maine Gambling Control Unit originally thought sports betting was on target to debut in January 2024. That date was expected to get pushed back after Milton's suspension. Fast forward a couple of months later, and it appears Maine sports betting is actually ahead of schedule, with hopes of launching this November.

Under the circumstances, beating the initial timeline is a legitimate surprise. The MGCU credits a thorough yet streamlined planning process that solicited insight from other states for their success. Pat Evans of Legal Sports Report laid out the full details in a recent article:

"From the start, Champion said he would not overhaul the rules he assembled for sports betting in Maine. In putting together the regulations, Champion drew from at least eight legal jurisdictions, including Colorado and Massachusetts. The regulations include tight advertising restrictions, including the prohibition of celebrities in advertising. Sportsbooks also cannot deduct promotional and bonus play, or advertise those offers. Aside from the advertising regulations, Champion wanted the rules to be similar to existing jurisdictions.

"Maine sports betting law gives the state’s four tribes control of online sports betting. Three of those tribes partnered with Caesars to be their sportsbook operator. A single online operator could potentially help regulators streamline the licensing process. The Sports Betting Alliance, whose members include BetMGMFanDuelDraftKings and Fanatics, said Maine’s revenue-sharing agreement with tribes would keep its member apps out of the state. BetMGM, however, has agreements with several OTBs in Maine."

By sticking to most of their original plans, the MGCU made it so Champion's absence wasn't a death knell for a 2023 rollout. At the same time, many were surprised they kept their sights on 2023. And there's still plenty for the state to figure out.

Maine Sports Betting Still Faces Pushback

When the MGCU released their first draft of sports gambling guidelines a few months ago, the terms were met with widespread critique. They reportedly received more than 500 comments on the terms. 

Much of the criticism focused on the rigid mobile wagering policy. The current setup doesn't allow for most of the best online sportsbooks in the United States to enter the market. Maine is instead hoping to accentuate the roles of their tribal casinos without punting on mobile wagering altogether.

This is viewed as a risk by many within the industry. States typically don't go this route. They either legalize online sports betting on a grander scale or don't approve it at all. But Maine is essentially rolling out what many hoped would become of sports betting in California before this past fall's measure flopped. Though the state will allow online wagering, corporate operators will need to strike partnerships with tribal casinos to deploy their mobile services. 

And even then, the corporations wouldn't be issued independent licenses. They would effectively be subsidiaries of the tribal casinos that receive fees or a percentage of the profits for their services. You better believe other states will be watching to see whether this dynamic pans out. If it does, it could start a growing trend in regions without online sports betting.

But first, Maine sports betting must go live. And for now, it looks like that'll happen later this year.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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