Lawmakers in Maine are set to discuss proposals that would allow tribes to have exclusive rights for igaming in the state. Public hearings on tribal gaming rights are scheduled for Wednesday, and the bills, if passed, are expected to face opposition from Governor Janet Mills.
The push for tribal gaming rights comes after Maine opened its sports betting market in late 2023. Governor Mills, who had previously been against allowing betting, granted tribes the rights to sports betting before its launch in November.
One of the bills, LD 585, specifies that internet sports wagering can only be operated by approved tribes in the state. Tribes will have the opportunity to apply for a license to operate online betting and may also select one online operator to partner with.
The hearings on Wednesday in Augusta represent an opportunity for tribes to advance their goal of exclusively operating online betting in Maine.
In its first month, legal sports betting in Maine saw over $37 million wagered on sports in the state, with DraftKings leading the way with $4.3 million in adjusted gross receipts from a $30.5 million handle.
Caesars, which is live in Maine through partnerships with three of the Wabanaki nations, had a handle of $7.1 million and gross receipts of $382,374.
The push for exclusive tribal rights in Maine comes amid a national trend of tribal gaming seeing an increase in revenues, as reported by the National Indian Gaming Commission’s annual report for 2022.
Despite this, tribes are actively fighting to protect their sovereignty from the potential encroachment of politicians and commercial gaming interests. Maine’s proposals for exclusive tribal rights follow similar steps taken by California and Florida in 2023 to grant tribes increased access to their gambling offerings.