The headache for Maine sports betting now extends beyond persuading operators to enter into a less than lucrative agreement with state tribes.
The Portland Press Herald reported on Monday that the Executive Director of Maine’s Gaming Control Unit, Milt Champion, was put on paid leave in the wake of some contentious posts on his personal Twitter account. His departure came the same day as Champion and his team released an updated draft of sports betting regulations and he said the state was on track to potentially launch around Thanksgiving.
“I can confirm that Director Champion has been placed on paid administrative leave, pending a review that is being conducted by the Bureau of Human Resources,” Lt. Thomas Pickering of the Maine State Police told the Press Herald. “Given that this is an ongoing, personnel-related matter, the department is unable to comment further.”
It was the Press Herald who reached out to the Gaming Control Unit about the tweets in question. One post lamented that some think it is inappropriate to call a group of women “ladies” and Champion suggested “b*****” might be more accepted, while the other seemed to indicate sympathy or support for a group marching at the US Capitol, noting that they weren’t looting or rioting.
Both tweets have since been deleted. Champion’s profile does indicate that tweets are his own opinions and not indicative of the stance of the state.
Champion has been crucial to the development of the Maine sports betting ecosystem and has been with the Gaming Control Unit since 2016.
Meanwhile, the setup in Maine could potentially leave some operators sitting on the sidelines. Those interested in coming into the state will need to partner with a tribe, with the tribe taking at least 50% of the revenues. An additional 10% of revenue goes to the state in taxes, leaving somewhere between 30-40% for the operators themselves.
With 1.3 million residents, Maine is not the biggest opportunity as a market. Plus, as the debates in New York have shown, operators simply cannot turn a profit under a tax structure that takes such a big chunk of earnings and are starting to reevaluate the need to be in every market as they seek profitability.