This Friday, Maine will join more than 30 states in the US in allowing legalized sports betting. The market, long-awaited by the state’s sports fans and bettors, will go live at 9 a.m. almost 15 months after sports wagering was legalized in the state.
The launch of Maine sports betting saw a number of delays, including a lack of operator registrations reported earlier this year. Only 11 of the first 26 US states to offer sports betting took as long as eight months to launch.
Governor Janet Mills signed the bill authorizing sports betting on May 2, 2022, granting exclusive rights to the online market to Maine’s Indian tribes. The law went into effect 90 days later.
The Maine Gambling Control Unit, responsible for overseeing legal betting in the state, published detailed rules in January. After a period of public consultation and revisions, the rules were forwarded to the state attorney general’s office for review in July.
The Department of Public Safety said that as of this Wednesday, service providers and vendors will be able to begin pre-launch advertising, accepting registrations and account deposits.
“That wait is almost over. Sports gambling goes live on Friday,” said Maine State Police spokesperson Shannon Moss. Legalized sports gambling is able to go live because the Maine Department of Public Safety’s Gambling Control Unit has adopted the rules for sports wagering.
The road to legalization and implementation of sports betting in Maine was described as “cautious” by John Holden, a professor at Oklahoma State University to the Portland Press Herald. “Maine certainly took, let’s say a cautious route to launch. I think the market has certainly developed nationally around them,” Holden said. “That’s probably kudos to Maine’s regulators that they are being cautious, they aren’t taking pressure from the industry.”
Milt Champion, executive director of Maine’s Gambling Control Unit, estimated that the state could collect between $3.8 million and $6 million a year in taxes from sports betting. However, Professor Holden believes that the economic impact could be more modest. “Sports betting is a low-margin product. It is not the lottery. The return is a little bit unpredictable,” he said.
Most sports betting (87% in 2021, according to the American Gaming Association) is done online. In Maine, the rights to the mobile sports betting market will belong to the four recognized tribes: Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Micmac and Maliseet. The financial agreements between the tribes, the state and the providers have already been established. DraftKings announced Tuesday afternoon that it had reached an agreement with the Passamaquoddy tribe to be their online sports betting provider.
Bettors in Maine must be physically present in the state to place a bet online, and the minimum age is 21. Bets on the state’s college and professional teams are not permitted.
In addition to online betting, Maine has seven licensed retail betting locations that may launch retail sportsbooks: the two casinos in Bangor and Oxford, and four off-track betting locations in Waterville, Sanford, Bangor and Lewiston. The Cumberland Fairgrounds also has a license and will operate its sports betting at a yet-to-be-determined location in Cumberland County. However, some of these locations will not be ready for launch and may take weeks or months to start operating.
When the state launches Friday, Vermont will remain the only New England state without legalized sports betting.