What Would Maine Sports Betting Look Like? New Hampshire Paints The Picture

Written By J.R. Duren on May 9, 2022
New Hampshire Sets A Pretty Prelude To Maine Sports Betting

A bill that would allow mobile sports betting in Maine via its indigenous tribes has led to an important question: What would Maine sports betting really look like?

To find the answer, it often helps to look at what neighboring states have done. And not state, perhaps, is more relevant to the Maine discussion than New Hampshire. The neighbor to the south launched sports betting in 2019, and the way that sports wagering has played out in the White Mountain State could give Maine residents a glimpse of their future.

How sports betting may be similar in both states

Maine and New Hampshire have several things in common when it comes to factors that play a role in sports betting.

First, neither state has a professional sports team. Because of that, marketing opportunities are pretty limited for sports betting operators. There won’t be any partnerships available, nor will operators be able to advertise their brand in packed arenas, fields, and hockey rinks.

But, if history has taught us anything, sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel will find a way to perpetuate a profitable existence no matter which teams play in the state.

Second, the two states are focusing on mobile sports betting, although retail sports betting is available at three locations in New Hampshire. If the Maine sports betting bill were to pass and get Gov. Janet Mills‘ signature, then all bets in the state would take place on phones and other mobile devices.

The upside to this is that the tribes in the state could partner with a bigname operator and make big dollars without ever having to build a sportsbook. And that’s an important thing to note because none of the tribes in the state operate a casino, and casinos are typically the place where sportsbooks pop up when a state legalizes sports betting.

How Maine sports betting may deviate

As the discussion turns to what might make the two states’ sports betting industries different, one issue jumps to the forefront—tribal exclusivity. Maine’s tribes would be the only entities allowed to run sports betting, whereas New Hampshires lottery runs sports betting.

What makes this difference so important? It’s a matter of variety and availability. In New Hampshire, the lottery partners with one sportsbook operator: DraftKings. So, it doesn’t matter if bettors love or hate DraftKings; they have no other choice.

In Maine, things would presumably be different. Tribes would sign contracts with operators of their choice, leading to multiple operators from which bettors could choose.

Another wrinkle to the Maine sports betting world is that tribal exclusivity may not actually make it to the governor’s desk for her signature. This week, lawmakers offered a proposal that would allow non-tribal entities to run sports betting, too. The compromise would come with a kicker for the tribe: a 6% share of the entire gross sports wagering receipts in the state. Basically, with this proposal, the tribes would sacrifice exclusivity but gain revenue from the non-tribal sports betting operators.

What does the New Hampshire timeline tell us?

Assuming that Maine legislators get a sports betting bill done before the legislature adjourns next week, the next logical question is, “When would sports betting actually launch?”

If New Hampshire is the model for a launch timeline, the answer is five months. That’s about how long it took for DraftKings to launch after lawmakers legalized sports betting.

That’s a pretty quick turnaround, but it’s important to keep in mind that the New Hampshire Lottery partner with a single sportsbook. Maine’s tribes (and possibly its commercial casinos, depending on how the last days of the legislative session turn out) and casinos would presumably work with multiple operators, and that process may take longer than five months.

At the same time, the timeline could move faster since any sportsbooks that partner with tribes or commercial casinos in the state will want to get to market first. DraftKings did not have that pressure in New Hampshire. If, FanDuel, Caesars, BetMGM, and DraftKings were in competition to launch in Maine, then we might see a faster time to launch.

Photo by Shutterstock.com
J.R. Duren Avatar
Written by
J.R. Duren

View all posts by J.R. Duren