Maine Regulators Clear Path For Online Sports Betting To Start

Written By Derek Helling on November 1, 2023 - Last Updated on November 2, 2023
Lighthouse, Maine rocks with Maine sportsbooks could start taking bets as soon as Nov. 1

Like how the Seven Years’ War played a big role in putting most of what is now the state of Maine under British control, legal online sports betting has nearly conquered the New England region. As soon as Friday, Maine could join its counterparts in having regulated online sports betting available.

Maine gaming regulators announced on Tuesday that they approved rules for online sports betting, representing one of the final steps necessary before sportsbooks could start taking bets. However, licensees have yet to confirm how soon they will be ready.

Maine finishes its part in rolling out legal sports betting

At this point, it’s up to each sportsbook operator how soon they begin taking action in Maine. A statement from the Maine Dept. of Public Safety’s Gambling Control Unit (MGCU) shares that the appropriate regulations are now final.

As far as the state is concerned, licensed sportsbooks can start accepting account registrations and deposits as of Nov. 1. On Nov. 3 at 9 a.m. local time, they can start taking bets. Under Maine law, tribal casino operators control legal sports betting in the state.

The law does allow them to contract out those operations should they wish to do so. To date, Caesars and DraftKings have partnerships with tribal casinos in the state for that purpose. BetMGM has a contract with multiple off-track betting sites (OTBs) for sports wagering but has yet to apply for a license.

Neither Caesars nor DraftKings have shared any details on how soon they could be ready to go in Maine. Despite the regulatory clearance, Friday might not be the actual launch day for physical sportsbooks in Maine, either.

Situation is even murkier around land-based sportsbooks

As of this writing, none of the physical sportsbook licensees have shared that they will be ready to go on any particular date. It might be some time before such announcements become official, too.

Maine law allows horse racing tracks and OTBs to partner with tribal casinos to offer sports betting as well. The state has three OTBs: Cumberland, Sanford, and Waterville. Harness racing takes place at Bangor Raceway and Scarborough Downs. Four tribal casinos occupy sovereign territory near Bangor and Oxford.

Preparations at the various locations are ongoing, but completion dates remain uncertain. For example, the Cumberland Fairgrounds track is in the process of relocation. The same goes for the OTB in Waterville. Officials at Favorites in Waterville shared in September that they expect to have sports betting available in December or January.

For these reasons, it’s possible that online sportsbooks could start taking action in Maine before their land-based counterparts. Again, neither Caesars nor DraftKings have yet confirmed that they will be ready to go at 9 a.m. on Nov. 3.

Given the regulatory clearance, both online sportsbooks are likely working hard to get ready. The opportunity is a little sweeter for them given that they have less competition for sports fans’ attention. Maine regulators recently cleared their path a little further.

Regulators also limit pick’em games in Maine

On Oct. 25, the MGCU fined Underdog for what it deemed a violation of state gambling laws. The violations pertained to Underdog’s pick’em sports games. The fine came with an order to immediately cease accepting paid entries for such games from people in Maine.

According to a news article by Pat Evans of Legal Sports Report, Underdog complied with the order. However, Underdog is availing itself of its appeal option. At issue is Underdog’s design of the contests, which strongly resemble parlay wagers that sportsbooks offer.

If Underdog loses its appeal, it would reinforce that only licensed sportsbooks can legally offer such games in Maine. The continuance of online sportsbooks’ entry into New England could start as soon as Nov. 3.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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