Thursday, May 19

Maine Sports Betting May Take Longer Than Usual To Launch

Maine Black Bears basketball player layup ball

Dec 30, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Maine Black Bears guard Ja’Shonte Wright-Mcleish (2) lays the ball up against Rutgers Scarlet Knights forward Aundre Hyatt (5) during the first half at Jersey Mike’s Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
  • According to a report from the Bangor Daily News, Maine sports betting could launch as late as 2024
  • Rules and regulations may take eight months to a year-and-a-half to draft
  • Online sports betting will be controlled by Maine tribes

Maine sports betting has been signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills, but residents shouldn’t expect to be able to place bets anytime soon.

According to a report from the Bangor Daily News, Maine sports betting may not launch until as late as 2024

Maine Rules and Regulations Holding Up Process

The process can’t begin until 90 days after the state’s session ended. Maine’s legislative session ended on April 25, so the operation can start in late July.

The biggest hold up? The state is estimating it will take between eight months to a year-and-a-half to draft state sports betting rules and regulations. Additionally, the state also needs to hire several new employees to oversee the sports betting industry before the rules and regulations can be drafted, according to the report.

The proposed timeline puts Maine at a slower than normal pace to launch sports betting. Most states are able to launch sports betting in less than a year, with some even launching between six to eight months. New York, for instance, launched online sports betting in about eight months after legalizing in April of 2021.

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Bill LD 585 will give the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Maliseet Tribes exclusive control over online sports betting in the state and will also legalize retail sports betting for state casinos and off-track betting establishments. Each tribe can partner with up to one online sportsbook operator.

Maine Tribes Control Online Sports Betting

Gov. Mills signed sports betting into law last week.

“This law provides meaningful economic opportunities for the Wabanaki Nations. It incentivizes investment in Tribal communities, and it formalizes a collaboration process on policy that sets the foundation for a stronger relationship in the future,” Mills said in a statement.

The tribes will control an estimated 85% of the sports betting market in the state, as online sports betting comprises the vast majority of all sports betting markets. The bill also includes concessions to the tribes, such as tax relief and consultation rights with the state for issues that would directly affect their affairs.

The original version of the bill did not include retail sports betting for Maine casinos, shutting out the establishments from the market altogether. However, representatives from Penn National Gaming (Barstool Sportsbook), which owns a casino in Bangor, led a charge to amend the bill. Legislators relented and allowed wording into the document that included retail sports betting, but no online sports betting, for the casinos and off-track betting establishment.

Maine Sports Betting Long Time Coming

Last year, Maine legislators approved bill LD 1352, which would have legalized statewide in-person and online sports betting. However, it was never brought to Mills for a signature and it never became law. The bill had a strange journey to approval, as its original sponsor Senator Louis Luchini (D-7) actually spoke up in the 2021 session and asked that legislators vote his bill down. Luchini originally wrote his bill as not having a tethering requirement for online sports betting, which became a controversial point of the betting plan.

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Luchini’s original draft of the bill proposed a Maine sports betting plan that would open the state to an uncapped amount of online sports betting licenses that would not have to be tethered or partnered to a brick-and-mortar facility.

Tethering is “anti-competitive and anti-free market,” he explained last year.

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