There comes a time when you just need to roll it out, let the wrinkles come, and then iron it out. We didn’t reinvent the wheel or come up with anything new. Maine sports bettors, rejoice! Your long wait is finally over — sports betting begins this Friday.
And there’s more good news — Maine will have two mobile operators, now that the Passamaquoddy Tribe has entered into a partnership with DraftKings Sportsbook, which changed its mind about deploying in the Pine Tree State.
DraftKings’ partnership still needs to be approved by regulators, but Maine has officially become a contest between DraftKings and Caesars, which announced a separate agreement with three other federally recognized tribes last May.
Shannon Moss, spokesperson for the Maine Gambling Control Unit (MGCU), said licensed operators could start pre-launch advertising and accepting registrations and account deposits starting Wednesday and continuing through Friday, according to a report by Sportsbook Review.
The upcoming launch was also a hot topic on social media on Tuesday.
“We’re excited. We’re raring to go,” MGCU Executive Director Milton Champion told Legal Sports Report separately last week. “There comes a time when you just need to roll it out, let the wrinkles come, and then iron it out. We didn’t reinvent the wheel or come up with anything new.”
Eighteen Months of Waiting
While it’s true that Maine regulators “didn’t come up with anything new” as far as regulations are concerned, they did come up with something new when it comes to slow-rolling an entire vertical.
Democratic Governor Janet Mills signed the bill that effectively made mobile sports betting legal in Maine eighteen months ago — way back in May 2022.
Since then, the MGCU has very methodically put together rules for the sports betting enterprise and sent them to AG Aaron Frey for his review, which appears to have concluded.
Caesars entered into agreements with three tribes — the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Mi’kmaq Nation, and Penobscot Nation — in May of this year. At the time, the Passamaquoddy Tribe said they were still in negotiations with an undisclosed operator.
The federal government recognizes all four tribes. The quartet also belong to the Wabanaki Nations. Each tribe is eligible for a mobile sports betting license.
Despite coming to an agreement nearly six months after the other tribes, the Passamaquoddy Tribe nevertheless voiced excitement about their new opportunity.
“The Passamaquoddy Tribe is excited to enter into a mobile sports wagering agreement with DraftKings,” Passamaquoddy Chief William Nicholas Sr. said in a joint statement with the operator on Tuesday.
“We couldn’t have landed a better organization in the mobile sports wagering arena, and we look forward to continued progress and investment for future growth in the state of Maine.”
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A Change of Heart?
DraftKings CEO Jason Robins added that “building a relationship with the Passamaquoddy Tribe is a fantastic opportunity for DraftKings, as we look to bring customers in the state of Maine safe and legal sports betting.”
“We look forward to our continued collaboration with the MGCU as we become the official mobile sports betting provider of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and launch in our industry-leading 25th state,” he added.
DraftKings is one of the best US sportsbooks. By some measures, it is the largest, and is certainly one of the most licensed and regulated. It operates in almost two dozen states across the US. Adding another feather in its cap — despite an adult population in Maine of just 1 million — makes sense.
However, it’s a big departure from last spring, when DraftKings and three other operators — BetMGM, Fanatics, and FanDuel — said they would not participate in sports betting in Maine. The operators were sour about the small size of the market and that operators would receive just 30% of revenue, but they can request 40% from the MGCU. The group called themselves the Sports Betting Alliance (SBA).
Another SBA member, BetMGM, is rumored to have signed a partnership with Favorites, which runs off-track betting (OTB) facilities in Sanford and Waterville.
Maine will also issue 10 licenses for retail sportsbooks at commercial casinos, racetracks, and OTB facilities in the state. Oxford Casino Hotel and Hollywood Casino & Raceway Bangor are the state’s two commercial casinos.