Maine sports betting regulators are facing pushback against proposed strict advertising restrictions, but a summer launch remains in view.
During an otherwise tame public hearing Tuesday on proposed ME sports betting rules, several comments came in against the Maine Gaming Control Unit‘s advertising restrictions. Those include MGCU approval of broadcast commercials and a prohibition of celebrity spokespersons. Beyond the advertising rules,
MGCU Executive Director Milton Champion was pleasantly surprised by a lack of comments during the hearing.
“I’m sitting there going, ‘I couldn’t have done this good of a job,’” Champion told LSR. “But we didn’t reinvent the wheel. We looked at other states. Today really certainly will make the process go a lot quicker and I’m very happy with the outcome.”
The MGCU will accept written comments through March 3, and as of Tuesday, Champion has received four written comments. With relatively few comments, Champion said sports betting in Maine could “comfortably launch by June or July.”
Maine advertising rules opposition
The only substantial feedback came in response to proposed advertising restrictions. Champion said he expected the comments on advertising, acknowledging they are stricter than other jurisdictions. Still, he was surprised by the amount of positive support for the advertising regulations.
The proposed rules do not allow the advertising of promotional offers. More attention, however, was paid to the rules that would require MGCU approval of ads for broadcast television and no usage of celebrities.
Tim Moore, president and CEO of the Maine Association of Broadcasters, provided the most feedback, even questioning the legality of the restrictions. Maine Gaming Control Board Chairman Steven Silver said he would expect some advertising restrictions to be watered down.
“There were pieces that certainly, from a practicality standpoint, seem like a stretch,” Silver said. “In terms of legality, I don’t know. But we’ll see some wiggle room on changes.”
No sportsbook operator feedback
No US sports betting operators spoke during the public hearing. Champion said he also has not received any written comments from sportsbook operators.
In Maine sports betting, the state’s four tribes each receive an online sports betting skin. Casinos and OTBs in the state can run retail sportsbooks.
Champion said he would release provisional applications soon, which he said will reveal operator interest in the state.
Maine sports betting timeline finally accelerates
After Gov. Janet Mills signed sports betting into law last year, Champion said the rulemaking process could take until 2024. In January, Champion said the speed to launch would rely on how much feedback he received.
He has looked closely at multiple legal markets to make his rules, which he said helps explain the public comment process. Barring a surprise in the written comments, Champion said the launch should be quicker than he expected.
“After what I saw today, as long as I’m not surprised by someone writing a book in the written comments, we can turn this around relatively quickly,” Champion said.