HOULTON, Maine – Partnering with betting company Caesars Sportsbook will provide three Maine tribal nations with new economic opportunities, according to Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Clarissa Sabattis’ boss.
The Wabanaki tribes of Maine have been granted exclusive rights to operate mobile sports betting in the state under LD 585, New Maine sports betting law which went into effect in August. Prior to the new law, which was supported by Maine Governor Janet Mills, the state’s tribal peoples were barred from all gambling operations.
Last week, Sabattis and Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians tribal council members joined leadership delegations from the Mi’kmaq Nation and Penobscot Nation for a signing ceremony in Augusta with representatives from Caesars Sportsbook to formalize their partnership.
According to Sabattis, the new law allowing tribes to franchise games will contribute to their goal of economic independence and help strengthen the local economy.
“It’s exciting,” Sabattis said. “This is a new step for the tribe and an opportunity we have not been able to access before.”
Mobile sports betting is a form of betting that uses apps for smartphones and tablets
to access online bookmakers. It allows players to bet on sports competitions with
anywhere, anytime as long as they have internet access on their devices.
Signing Caesar is just the beginning, Sabattis said. She said there were several issues that needed to be finalized under the proposed legislation before the state would issue licenses to the three tribal nations.
Among the still unresolved issues are advertising restrictions that prohibit high-profile athletes and celebrities from promoting sports betting ads, and all ads must be filed with the Maine Gaming Control Board 10 days before distribution.
Once the program goes live, which could take several more months, it’s hard to predict how much revenue it will bring to shareholders, including Caesars, the state and tribal nations, Sabattis said.
By law, the mobile sports betting operator will donate 25 percent of the income it generates in Maine to the state, with 24 percent of the funds deposited in the General Fund for Basic K through 12 Department of Education programs and 1 percent for administrative expenses of those Maine game control board.
When Ohio launched mobile sports betting in January, t for $1.1 billion dollars, with a state share of $20 million. This was triple previous state projections.
Mobile sports betting in New Hampshire has totaled $1.8 billion since it began three years ago, according to state officials.
Sabattis said in a March letter to the Maine Gaming Control Board that sports betting would directly bring significant economic benefits to the state.
Additionally, the income generated by the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians will be invested in tribal community needs such as housing, healthcare and new development opportunities. She said they would bring economic benefits that would spread far beyond the tribal community to nearby towns.