Caesars Approved To Join Maine As State’s First National Sports Betting Operator

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05/08/2023
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Highlights

  • Sports betting was legalized in Maine in 2022 but is not operational
  • Tribes were granted control over sports betting as a peace offering by the state
  • A piece of legislation that has stalled in the state assembly would give tribes sovereignty closer to what those in other states enjoy

Caesars sportsbook has gained access to the Maine market and is now the first national operator to be welcomed into the state’s sports betting scene.

Nearly one year ago on May 2, 2022, Maine legalized sports betting when Gov. Janet Mills signed LD 585. That signature authorized the states’ four tribes to handle exclusive privileges as sports betting operators, though that is no longer the case now that Caesars has been granted permission. 

Caesars’ deal is with three of the local tribes. The company can now offer online sports betting services and can seek retail licenses if it so chooses.

Signing the dotted line

As of April, rumors suggested that no major operators had sought access to Maine’s small but developing market. Caesars put an end to those talks with its recent actions as the first national operator to seek and receive approval.

“As part of Caesars Entertainment’s longtime commitment to supporting Indian gaming, Caesars Sportsbook is proud to have signed a historic term sheet in Maine under which it will be the single mobile sports betting provider for three of the state’s tribes of the Wabanaki Nations: the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Mi’kmaq Nation, and the Penobscot Nation,” the company said in an email statement. 

The Wabanaki Nation, composed of four smaller tribes, does not have the same level of sovereignty as tribes in other states and was granted control of the state’s gaming scene as an olive branch by Mills.

Current legislation mandates that the tribes and their partners pay a 10% tariff on gambling revenue and restrict patrons from betting on in-state colleges.

Each tribe is allowed to partner with one other provider. Caesars has the opportunity to diversify its platforms under the Caesars title, for example, how Flutter Entertainment has both FanDuel and FOX Bet.

“Caesars has extensive experience, knowledge, and a reputation of excellence in partnering with other tribes across the country,” said Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis. “Our agreement with Caesars provides that the Tribes will receive annual mandatory minimum payments once we begin operations. The tribes will receive much more than these minimum payments if the market performs as expected.”

Maine’s gambling scene

The Gambling Control Unit of Maine, the state’s operator, is looking to get Caesars set up in time for football season, though the company nor the state has provided an official launch date. There is no registered interest from other national operators in joining Caesars in Maine.

Despite sports betting being legal in Maine, no market currently exists as the Gambling Control Unit continues to undergo preparations for launch day. 

Part of those preparations revolve around the level of freedom the tribes will enjoy in the future. The 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act limits their sovereignty and blocks them from applying for more. However, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden penned a bill last summer that would give them similar levels of self-control as other states nationwide. 

The bill was met with initial approval but quickly stalled and has not progressed.

Nonetheless, the tribes are encouraged by the opportunity to enlist Caesars as a partner and continue growing in authority. 

“We are very excited about this partnership and opportunity to secure much-needed resources,” said Francis. “It is important to remember that we are reclaiming our gaming rights as a Nation after nearly 40 years of being denied. We are hopeful that this is just the first step in establishing a tribal gaming enterprise as the agreement ensures the tribes’ participation in any future full iGaming opportunities authorized in Maine.”

There are no major professional or collegiate sports teams in Maine, which limits its potential as a sports betting enterprise. Nonetheless, the impending launch of a legal sports betting market is expected to draw millions in dollars of revenue annually.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.

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