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No sportsbooks have applied for a Maine online sports betting license, another launch hurdle for what is set to be the nation’s next live legal wagering market.

Though Maine has technically approved mobile sports betting, no sportsbook has applied for a license, according to a Portland Press-Herald report. The lack of sportsbook interest is another factor in what could be the nation’s longest rollout from bill signing to first bet.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed her state’s online and retail sports betting bill into law in May 2022. Most of the more than 20 states to approve online sports betting have gone from bill signing to inaugural wager in less than a year. The longest was Maryland at just over 18 months.

There’s no timeline yet for Maine’s launch, but it could plausibly take until early 2024, according to the Press-Hearld report.

Market apathy

The bill pushed by Mills, despite opposition from lawmakers, gave exclusive mobile wagering authorization to the state’s four federally recognized Native American gaming tribes. The legislation allows the tribes to each have one individual license apiece, or two or more tribes can partner together. This means there could be between one and four mobile wagering platforms in the state.

The license limits as well as Maine’s small population are two factors that have likely dissuaded early interest from operators. Maine is also set to have some of the nation’s highest tax rates and most prohibitive advertising restrictions.

DraftKings would seem to be the likeliest company to partner with a tribe and apply for a license. The nation’s No. 2 sportsbook by handle, Boston-based DraftKings agreed to pay a 51% tax rate on gross gaming revenue in neighboring New Hampshire in exchange for a de facto monopoly.

FanDuel, the No. 1 operator by handle and BetMGM (No. 3), seem to be other likely applicants. If no leading national commercial operators pursue a license, one or more tribes may work with a third-party tech company to create a self-branded sports betting platform.

Maine’s 2022 sports betting bill also allows retail sportsbooks at the state’s two brick-and-mortar commercial casinos, which are owned by Penn Entertainment and Churchill Downs, respectively. Penn would presumably open a Barstool Sports-branded in-person book at its property. Churchill Downs has shuttered sports betting on its Twin Spires online platform but could open an on-property retail book.

The state’s off-track betting facilities can also open retail books. No OTB sportsbook platform partners have been announced publicly.

New England market

All six New England states could presumably have live mobile sports betting by next year.

Rhode Island was the first state in the region with legal sports betting, opening the RI Sportsbook in 2019. New Hampshire followed with a DraftKings launch in 2021.

DraftKings as well as FanDuel mobile sportsbooks are live in Connecticut. Rush Street Interactive’s PlaySugarHouse is set to leave the market later this year, though another operator is expected to enter the state.

Massachusetts, which in March became the most recent state in the country to start taking legal mobile bets, has more live sportsbooks than all other New England states combined. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, WynnBet and Barstool are live now with more operators set to follow in the coming year.

Vermont, the only New England state that hasn’t yet approved mobile sports betting, is considering a bill this year.

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