Sports betting likely in a few months in Maine

State officials released draft rules Wednesday that explain how Maine will implement the new sports betting law.

The law, signed by Gov. Janet Mills last spring, legalizes sports betting and gives four Maine tribes exclusive rights to online betting. But it could be months before those bets become legal.

The earliest sports betting could go live is in April, said Milt Champion, director of the Maine Gambling Enforcement Unit. But it could take until next January to address public comments, finalize rules and issue licenses to in-person and online betting providers.

“I know everybody wants it either during the Super Bowl or during March Madness,” he told reporters Wednesday at the Augusta Department of Public Safety. – But let’s be honest, that simply won’t happen.

Fantasy contests took a year for Maine to implement, Champion said, after the rules underwent multiple revisions and public comments.

Still, he said he hopes sports betting will be up and running in time for Maine’s summer tourist season.

“If they want to sit by their camp with their iPhones and bet on a Red Sox game, it would be great if they could do that,” he said. “Because when they’re in Maine and they do a transaction in Maine, Maine gets the revenue.”

Under the new law, Maine will receive about 10% of the revenue from sports betting. Projections from Champion’s office and sportsbooks estimate that Maine could bring in between $3.8 million and $6.9 million in annual revenue through sports betting, he said.

Tribes will receive at least 50% of online bets. They will choose a provider, such as FanDuel or DraftKings, to operate mobile sports betting apps on their behalf. Those entities will receive 30% of sports betting revenue, although they can claim up to 40%, under the proposed rules.

Champion said each of the tribes could choose their own online betting provider, or all or a few of them could agree to choose an operator and determine how to split the funds among themselves. It’s unclear which betting providers the tribe is talking to, and Champion said the state won’t know until they apply for a license.

A public hearing on the proposed sports betting rules is scheduled for January 31. The hearing, as well as subsequent written public comment, could draw widespread reactions from the sports betting industry and other lobbyists.

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