The seemingly dormant process to launch Maine sports betting is set to take a significant step forward this week.
The Maine Gambling Control Unit announced Monday it will release the proposed rules for ME sports betting Wednesday. Gambling Control Unit Executive Director Milton Champion will also make a public statement Wednesday.
The regulatory agency will also publish a notice of a public hearing on the rules, scheduled for Jan. 31. After Gov. Janet Mills signed the legislation into law in May 2022, Champion told LSR a sports betting launch could be sometime in 2023 or early 2024.
Quite a slog for Maine sports betting
In July 2022, Champion said he was working on the rules and taking “introductory” meetings with industry stakeholders. The Maine sports betting law went into effect August 2, 2022.
The mid-January 2023 release for the rules is not far off from Champion’s original end-of-2022 prediction. Rather than rush to launch, Champion hoped to roll out rules without much to change.
“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 in July 2022.
Most of the rules will be familiar to operators and other industry stakeholders, Champion said. The four federally recognized tribes in Maine will facilitate online sports betting, by either operating their own platform or partnering with a B2C platform like DraftKings and FanDuel.
Lenghty process in Maine
Mills’s signature last spring came following several years of legalization efforts in the Pine Tree State. Last year’s successful effort came likely because it was part of a larger tribal sovereignty deal.
The 2022 legislation was not the first time Maine lawmakers passed a sports wagering bill. The legislature approved an effort in 2019 only to see it vetoed by Mills.
The legislature also agreed to a deal in 2021 for a tethered system attached to casinos and race tracks, but was left on the Appropriations Table, a committee that reviews bills that make or cost the state money.