Problematic social media posts have placed the chief Maine sports betting regulator on the sidelines, with the potential to delay the state’s rollout.
The Maine Gambling Control Unit placed executive director Milton Champion on paid leave last week, as first reported by the Portland Press Herald. The action follows two social media posts this month with reportedly sexist and racist undertones.
The indefinite leave comes as the MGCU is in its second public comment period for ME sports betting rules. Champion recently told LSR it would be at least until January 2024 for a launch. That timeline is now in question.
Champion’s social media issues
The social media posts in question came from Champion’s Twitter account, @EDRegulator, which has 66 followers. He deleted the tweets.
The first came on May 6 as Champion lamented after being told “ladies” was an unprofessional term. “In this day and age, I guess Bitches’ is better,” Champion tweeted.
The second came on May 14, when he responded to a tweet showing a video of Patriot Front members marching in Washington with “At least they are not burning down cities and looting stores.” The Anti-Defamation League lists Patriot Front as a white supremacist group.
How will this affect Maine sports betting?
The MGCU released its second batch of proposed regulations last week. Stakeholders must submit comments by June 16, but beyond that, the situation is murky, according to Maine Gambling Control Board chairman Steven Silver.
“I’m hoping to have more clarity about the situation before comments are due,” Silver said, declining to comment specifically on the Champion situation. “That will provide a clearer picture as to whether there will be any delays.”
Champion previously told LSR if the MGCU moves forward with this draft, a launch by January 2024 is possible. With Champion out, recently hired deputy director Matthew Motti is at the agency’s helm.
Where Maine sports betting sits
Gov. Janet Mills signed sports betting into law in spring 2022 following several years of legalization attempts, including one effort which Mills vetoed. Champion released the first set of draft rules in January, receiving more than 500 comments.
Despite the significant feedback, Champion said he would not overhaul the rules and would continue to take the process slowly.
The director did, however, ease on the advertising regulations that initially required him to approve all TV ads.
Maine sportsbook ecosystem
There will be few options for sports bettors in Maine whenever the industry gets off the ground. The four tribes in the state control online access, three of whom have partnered with Caesars.
The Sports Betting Alliance said Maine’s revenue-sharing agreement with tribes would keep member apps out of the state. SBA members include BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics and FanDuel.
BetMGM has, however, partnered with several OTBs in the state for in-person sports betting. Churchill Downs Inc. and Penn Entertainment also run casinos in the state, meaning TwinSpires and Barstool in-person sportsbooks are likely.