Preparations for the launch of Maine’s first sports betting operations are expected to accelerate now that the Office of the Maine Attorney General has begun a final review of the state’s rules for the new industry.

The chairman of the Gambling Control Board expects to receive license applications from vendors in the coming weeks or months so the operators will be ready to go live this fall.

The rule-making process that began shortly after Gov. Janet Mills signed the law legalizing sports betting in May 2022 is now over. State officials announced Monday that Maine’s sports betting rules have been sent to the attorney general’s office for final review. The attorney general is expected to review and accept the rules within 120 days, allowing licensed providers to start taking bets.

The Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Gambling Control Unit, said on Monday that it anticipates a November launch.

“We’re talking about betting, so I would bet on it happening,” Steven Silver, the chair of the Gambling Control Board, said in an interview Monday. “This is the last step. It could be sooner, let’s not forget that. The AG’s going to have 120 days, it doesn’t mean they have to take all of them.”

Silver is confident the rules will be approved by the attorney general’s office, the final hurdle to launch an industry expected to generate $3.8 million to $6.9 million in annual revenue for the state.


“Some of the major concerns would be reviewing for legality and constitutionality. … Those fears seem to have been assuaged,” Silver said. “I can’t imagine (the rules) are going to be rejected, but it is a final step, so … we’ll see.”

John Holden, a professor at Oklahoma State University who has written extensively on the regulation of sports gambling, said the start of the AG’s review is a big step in Maine’s march toward implementing sports betting.

“This is definitely the homestretch,” Holden said. “That’s really exciting from a Maine sports bettor and Maine taxpayer perspective. That will be in time for NFL playoffs, which is sort of the golden goose of sports betting. You really don’t want to miss out on that. That’s right on target.”

The list of companies coming to Maine is taking form as well. The rights to the online sports betting market, which according to the American Gaming Association accounted for 87 percent of all sports bets in 2021, belong to Maine’s four recognized Indigenous tribes. The Penobscot Nation announced in May that it was entering a partnership with the Maliseet and Micmac nations to go with Caesars Sportsbook as their online betting provider.

The Passamaquoddy Tribe has not announced a partnership with a vendor, though Chief William Nicholas said an agreement is in the works.

“The Passamaquoddy Tribe is in current negotiations with an operator and we look forward to sharing that information soon after we sign the agreement,” Nicholas said in an email. “We look forward to the opening in November.”


Barstool Sportsbook has an agreement with Hollywood Casinos, which has a location in Bangor. Silver said BetMGM also has applied for an off-track-betting license.


Silver said that the license application from BetMGM is the only one that the Gambling Control Unit run by Milt Champion has received, and Silver hopes more potential providers will be filing applications soon.

“Whenever it’s approved, we can go live, but (to go) live you have to have licensed holders,” Silver said. “If the applications wait until October to get in, I highly doubt that Milt’s staff is going to be able to get background investigations and everything else done to be ready for launch.”

Silver is confident that push will kick in now that the rules have reached the attorney general.

“This is part of getting the word out, that, ‘OK, Maine’s moving forward,’ ” he said. “If there was going to be another round of rule-making, there was really no incentive to get that application in. Now really starts the period. If we get to post-Labor Day and we’re still sitting at one (license application), maybe I’ll have a different feeling. But I think you’re going to see a lot of movement in the next 30 days.”


The first draft of rules in January received 581 comments, which prompted a second draft that was published in May. That version drew 144 comments, 64 of which were duplicates, Silver said.

“To get to 80 (new comments), that’s a huge drop,” he said. “And my understanding from Milt was that a good portion of those were pretty minor. Maybe word changes here and there, but not significant or substantive.”


Holden, the OSU professor, said Mainers can expect the same betting experience that other states, including New Hampshire and Massachusetts, have seen since they went live.

“I think it’s going to be fairly similar for the consumer to how it looks elsewhere, and that’s kind of what a lot of places want. No one wants to be standing alone,” he said. “The consumers in Maine are going to get a product like other people around the country. I don’t think it’s going to be especially unique, like you might see in a place like D.C. where they’ve kind of done their own thing.”

One area where Maine did set itself apart was in its rules limiting advertising, which Silver in May called “more restrictive than other states.” Maine’s rules prohibit advertising with celebrities meant to appeal to anyone under 21 and logos designed to appeal to minors, as well as ads with misleading claims about the chances of winning.

Holden, however, said that Maine’s advertising restrictions are progressive.

“I think we’re starting to see the rest of the country think about moving in that direction,” he said. “We’ve certainly seen Ohio clamp down. … I think that’s kind of a trend we’re going to see moving forward. In that respect, I think Maine’s rules are ahead of the curve there.”

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