Maine made its way into the legal mobile sports betting market rather quickly. The state had a number of sports betting bills floating around the legislature, but nothing seemed to be too serious. Then out of nowhere Maine passed legislation with just two days left in the session, eventually legalizing sports betting.
The bill that Maine legalized is like a Frankenstein sports betting bill. The Joint Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs constructed a bill based off of key elements of all the previously introduced bills.
Maine almost pulled the same stunt as Illinois, trying to freeze out major operators like FanDuel and DraftKings from operating in the state for two years so that local casinos could get a leg up on the competition. However, the state decided that FanDuel and DraftKings deserved an equal opportunity as they have been good operators in the state for daily fantasy sports.
Maine has one of the lowest tax rates for retail sports betting at only 10 percent. For online betting, that percentage rises to a modest 16 percent. Maine has two commercial casinos, four tribal casinos, four off-track betting facilities, and one racetrack for a total of 11 gambling establishments. There is no limit on the number of mobile licenses in the state.
The average joe could afford a sports betting license in Maine. In Pennsylvania the application fee for a sports betting certificate is $10 million (and there is no guarantee of approval); in Maine, it is only $2,000. No, not $20,000 or $200,000, two thousand.
Maine Governor Janet Mills has already announced her veto plans, and sports betting wasn’t a part of those plans. She now has 10 business days to act on the bill, meaning she has to act by July 3. It appears to be a formality at this point as Mills is expected to sign the bill into law. The law would then go into effect 90 days after passage of the bill.
Better Late Than Never
Maine isn’t going to be able to make it in time for the start of the NFL season, but the state could see sports betting operating by October 2019. Even if Maine could get sports betting, especially online/mobile, operational for half the NFL season, that would be a big win. If they can beat New Hampshire to the punch, they could even draw some bettors from out of state, another big boost.
Look for most, if not all, of the state’s 11 gambling facilities to try and get in on the action ASAP. For only $2,000, they have nothing to lose. Maine only has a population of 1.3 million, so assuming each facility gets a sports betting license, there isn’t much of a customer base to go around. New Hampshire to the south is legalizing sports betting as well, so that cuts off access to other states for Maine.
The first sportsbook to launch in the state will have the biggest advantage, as will the ones to put out the best mobile apps. Promotions will be key as well, as bettors will flock to the sportsbook with the best bonuses and rewards. This gives the smaller facilities a chance to compete with the state’s big casinos. Expect a mad dash to the finish line in Maine in about 90 days.