Suspended Director Back, Maine Sports Betting Keeps 2023 Launch Target

Written By

Updated on

Maine sports betting

Despite more than a month without the top gaming regulator in Maine, the state could see a sports betting launch by the end of the year.

On Monday, the Maine Gambling Control Unit submitted its final ME sports betting regulations to the Attorney General, setting up for a potential sportsbook debut as early as November, according to MGCU Executive Director Milton Champion. In an email to LSR Tuesday, Champion said, “Temporary or initial licenses will be issued on the day of adoption to allow licensees to go live and offer wagers on sports according to law and rule.”

Progress toward live sports betting was made even in the absence of Champion, who was placed on leave in May for problematic social media posts. Champion returned to work July 10. Before his leave, the director told LSR to expect live sports betting in early 2024.

Champion returns in Maine

The Department of Public Safety suspended Champion with pay after the chief regulator posted tweets with reportedly sexist and racist undertones.

This month, the department completed a review and recommended a 40-hour suspension without pay, which Champion accepted and served. He also will receive mandated training.

“While the two tweets were intended to be humorous, I recognize they were anything but. They were a mistake and an error in judgment, and I apologize for my actions,” Champion said in a release this month. “I thank the employees of the [Gambling Control Unit] for their hard work and commitment in my absence.”

Deputy Director Matthew Motti led the MGCU in Champion’s absence.

Few Maine sports betting regulations change

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.

“We’re not trying to change things here in Maine,” Champion told LSR in January. “We’re not going to reinvent the wheels.” 

Helpfully simple Maine sports betting situation

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 BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings 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.

Still a slog for Maine sports betting

Gov. Janet Mills signed sports betting into law in spring 2022. That came after multiple efforts in previous years, including a bill that Mills vetoed.

After months of contemplating the regulations, Champion released a first draft in January. He said he would not overhaul the rules, despite receiving more than 500 comments.

In response to the second draft of the rules, there were approximately 150 comments in the second round. More than 60 were duplicates from the first round, which Champion said would not be considered. That helped expedite sending the final draft to the Attorney General this week.