Milton Champion is still hesitant to set a start date for Maine sports betting.
Champion, the executive director of the Maine Gambling Control Unit, told LSR this week he is working on the ME sports betting rules, which stretch at least 15 chapters. Champion also said he has had “introductory” meetings with a variety of industry stakeholders.
While he is making progress, Champion does not want to set a date and then miss it. The state’s new sport betting law goes into effect August 2.
“Hopefully, by the end of the year, I can get something out there,” Champion said. “It’ll be some sort of public hearing, then it’s going to be what pushback I get and how much of the proposed text is OK.”
Looks like at least 2023 for Maine sports betting
Champion already tempered expectations, telling LSR in May that sports betting might not launch until 2024. At that time, he said he would rather set a lengthy timeline and beat it.
“I hate to be disappointing to people, but I’d rather be realistic and then roll them out in six to eight months and have people happy because we did it so quick,” he said at the time.
Before he sets a public hearing, Champion wants a deputy director to look at the proposed rules. That employee might not start until October.
Champion takes calls on Maine
Champion said he is meeting with a variety of industry stakeholders, including representatives from Sportradar and GeoComply. He also said a lot of the “biggies” were in Portland, Maine, for the North American Gaming Regulators Association annual meeting last month.
The meetings have not included specific talk about regulations, according to Champion.
“I can’t have a separate meeting with each party about the rules,” he said. “I have to put proposed texts out there, then have a public hearing and request written comments.”
Surprises coming for Maine sports betting?
Champion said he is comparing his rules draft to at least six other US sports betting markets as he goes.
Much of the text will be familiar to operators, he said.
“I do have a few surprises,” Champion said.
What sportsbooks are heading to Maine?
In Maine, the four federally recognized tribes will facilitate online sports betting.
Champion said he is not sure who will express interest in the market and might not know until he sends the applications to the tribes. He said he would be surprised if DraftKings is not interested, as the operator holds a monopoly on New Hampshire sports betting. New Hampshire borders Maine.
Still, he knows Maine does not have a large population and said it might take time to draw significant interest from sportsbooks.