Legislators Tweak Maine Sports Betting License Terms

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Maine sports betting

The chief regulator for Maine sports betting got his wish this week.

On Tuesday, the Maine legislature enacted LD 2117, a Maine sports betting bill that drops sportsbook license terms from four years to one year, sending it to Gov. Janet Mills. Mills has 10 days to sign the legislation.

The legislation also allows Milton Champion, Maine Gaming Control Unit executive director, to issue multiple temporary licenses before issuing a permanent license. Champion said the shorter terms will ease the workload for the MGCU, while the temporary license language will keep Maine sports betting live past November if the MGCU has not issued permanent licenses. 

Simplifying Maine sports betting

The bill’s main component drops the license terms from four years to one year. It also adjusts the licensing fees to align with the one-year term. 

Champion told lawmakers during the legislative process the change would help minimize the workload for MGCU staff. It lines up sports betting with other gambling the regulator oversees. 

“Tracking this information over four years is much harder to accomplish rather than on a regular basis,” Champion said during a hearing earlier this year. “Turning it over every year versus holding onto it for four years of information before renewing will help. We don’t want unintentional mistakes or oversights because of the length of time.”

Keeping Maine sports betting live 

There are two sportsbooks live in Maine: Caesars and DraftKings. Champion, however, has only issued temporary licenses.

In the initial 2022 sports betting legislation, temporary licenses were only valid for a year. Champion issued the two temporary operator licenses in November 2023 to get the market open.

Now, Champion can continue to issue temporary licenses until his background checks are finished for the permanent licenses. Champion said at least a portion of the background check delays are on the federal side and out of MGCU control. 

Maine online casino stagnant

The Maine legislature also discussed legalizing online casinos this session. A bill appeared that would give the Wabanaki tribal nations control of online gambling, which also have online sports betting exclusivity.

The Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs voted in favor of the bill earlier this month, 7-6. While the legislature could pass the online casino bill, sources suggest it is unlikely Mills would support the gambling expansion, particularly if the state’s commercial casinos are left out.

Mills vetoed a sports betting bill in 2020 but eventually agreed to legalize it through a broader tribal sovereignty package in 2022.