The first mobile sports wagers were made in Maine on Nov. 3, shortly after 9 a.m., more than a year after the state legislature authorized the practice. The statute signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills (D) in Aug. 2022 allowed Maine’s four federally recognized tribes exclusive operational rights to develop mobile sports betting applications in the state.
Implementing a more extended timeframe for public hearings and a more laborious rulemaking procedure contributed to the delay in the rollout. The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Mi’kmaq Nation, and the Penobscot Nation have reportedly all signed with one sportsbook to have the company manage their gambling applications. However, the Passamaquoddy has teamed up with a different sportsbook.
The legislation permits the four tribes to form joint ventures with a single online sports betting service provider.
The History Behind the Legalization
Several years ago, in the case of Murphy v National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Supreme Court overturned a federal rule forbidding sports betting. The Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case in 2018 that federal bans on state-sanctioned sports betting violated the Tenth Amendment as it had previously been construed.
To paraphrase the Constitution, “Congress may not simply ‘commandeer the legislative process of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program.”
The Court found no significant difference between ordering a state to enact a statute and forbidding it to do so. This ruling paved the way for the gradual expansion of regulated sports betting nationwide. The Court’s decision did not instantly legalize sports betting everywhere, but it paved the way for state legislatures to do so if desired.
So, Who Can Bet?
Individuals must be at least 21 to participate in the state’s newly permitted sports betting business. It is permitted for non-Maine residents to bet when physically present in the state.
Current state law in Maine prohibits gambling on collegiate sports matches involving schools in Maine. However, one can bet on big leagues like the NFL or the NBA. Athletes, coaches, and officials at all levels of competition are banned from making wagers on their games. The state government anticipates receiving between $3.8 million and $6.9 million in taxes from the emerging business.
The Maine Betting Market
It will be fascinating to see how the betting apps scene in Maine develops as the population, at over a million, is not very large. Some may fear that the market is too tiny if you factor in the absence of any major college or professional teams near Maine.
New Hampshire, like Vermont, has a small population and few sports teams, yet the state has fared relatively well statistically. Branding and easy access to betting will be crucial to the market’s success. We can extrapolate the success of this market to other states if online betting is allowed for those outside the state of Maine.
Vermont is the only state in New England that has not allowed sports betting as of the time of this writing. There are now over 30 states in the U.S. where sports betting apps are permitted.
Sports betting on mobile devices won’t be authorized in North Carolina until at least 2024, and that may not be much later. Mobile sportsbooks are anticipated to go live in North Carolina between Jan. 8 and June 14, 2024.
The North Carolina Lottery Commission, the state’s sports betting authority, has not yet begun accepting license applications. The commission has yet to set a meeting schedule for sports betting regulatory topics, although it is now recruiting more staff members.