Maine sports betting still set for November launch despite regulator departure

Maine flag
Image: Shutterstock

The Maine Gambling Control Unit has told local press that it is intent on launching sports betting by the end of 2023 despite upheaval at the agency which included the exit of its director last week. 

Per the Press Herald, regulators in Maine are ready to continue with work to get sports betting launched this year following the controversy in the last weeks which saw director Milt Champion placed on absence. 

Champion was put on paid leave following the posting of contentious tweets on his personal Twitter account, just hours after he released an updated draft of sports betting regulations and said the state was on track to potentially launch around Thanksgiving.

This is just the latest hurdle in a tough period for Maine’s sports betting regulatory process, which has been taking place laboriously for nearly a year after Governor Janet Mills passed legislation in 2022. 

However, not all is lost, and the Press Herald reported that the Gambling Control Unit is still hopeful of a November launch.

“The Gambling Control Unit remains committed to implementing the law in a manner consistent with the November time frame previously publicly discussed,” Lt. Thomas Pickering of the Maine State Police, commented. 

Despite this reassurance, there are some murmurs that further delays are in store for Maine’s sports betting regulation publication and launch given the controversy and Champion’s departure. 

Answering the Press Herald’s line of questioning around whether there would be further delays, Steven Silver, Head of the Gambling Control Board, added: “I think that’s a good question, and one that a lot of people are asking.

“It’s really unknown right now. The Legislature directed all of the oversight for sports betting to go through the unit, rather than the board, so it’s up to the unit.”

The process of regulating sports betting has not been without its controversy. After publishing a draft of regulations in January, the Gambling Control Unit received a letter from the AGA which demanded the unit roll back on plans to place severe restrictions on sports betting advertising. 

After the draft stipulated that TV ads may only be played during events on the channel that the game is broadcast on, whilst no offers or bonuses are allowed to be promoted, Bill Miller, President of the AGA, cited black market concerns as a reason to reevaluate the measures. 

He wrote: “The AGA urges the Maine Gambling Control Unit to remove the restrictions on advertising contained in the proposed regulations, which – if adopted – will undermine a critical tool that the legal industry uses to inform the public about licensed operators, further empower illegal sportsbooks, and limit the success of the legal market in Maine.  

“As Maine has recognized, legal sports betting enhances consumer protections and helps promote transparency and game integrity, while also supporting job growth and generating tax revenue. However, to realize these benefits, it is important to avoid policy decisions that – even if well-intended – will ultimately undermine the ability of the regulated marketplace to compete against illegal sportsbook operators.”