In the wake of Maine regulators’ proposed regulations for sports betting in the state, the American Gaming Association (AGA) penned a letter to the Maine Gambling Control Unit (MGCU) with concerns on said regulations.
Maine’s Strict Sports Betting Rules
The rules, which were announced in January include two pages worth of restrictions on sportsbook advertising and promotions. Some notable restrictions, per the rule book are:
- Prohibition of “the use of cartoon characters, professional or Olympic athletes, celebrities or entertainers” in advertising.
- “Television advertising may only take place during an event and only on the channel that the event is being telecast when wagers on that event are offered by a licensed operator in Maine.”
- “Television advertising shall not advertise promotions and/or bonuses.”
- “All promotions and bonuses must only be offered in the app or on the website of the Operator.”
The AGA stepped in to respond to Maine’s strict propositions, arguing that it will actually have the opposite effect of what the MGCU intends.
“Statutory and regulatory restrictions or bans will only impede the ability to inform consumers about the availability of legal sportsbooks and the tenets of responsible gaming, and strengthen the competitive advantage enjoyed by illegal betting operations,” the letter from AGA President Bill Miller wrote.
“It is important to avoid policy decisions that – even if well-intended – will ultimately undermine the ability of the regulated marketplace to compete against illegal sportsbook operators,” wrote Miller.
Combating offshore books is a crucial piece of AGA’s overall philosophy. In June 2022, the AGA extended its compliance commitments with the role out of its Responsible Marketing Code For Sports Wagering.
In summary: “The AGA urges the Maine Gambling Control Unit to remove the restrictions on advertising contained in the proposed regulations, which – if adopted – will undermine a critical tool that the legal industry uses to inform the public about licensed operators, further empower illegal sportsbooks, and limit the success of the legal market in Maine.”
Regulators Increasing Restrictions
These are the nation’s strictest advertising restrictions that have come since the fall of PAPSA, but are no doubt a part of a larger movement as state’s move to prioritize responsible gambling. Just last month, New York Congressman Paul Tonko proposed the “Betting On Our Future Act” which would ban sportsbook advertising on a federal level.
On Feb. 27 New York’s gaming commission passed several regulations to safeguard against underage betting. They also announced a prohibition on certain terms such as “risk-free” which is inspired by the Ohio Casino Control Commission’s (OCCC) decision to do so when online sports betting launched in Ohio on Jan. 1. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has followed in the OCCC’s footsteps on several accounts as they ready for an online sports betting launch on March 10.
What If The Rules Get Approved?
Maine legalized sports betting last year but has yet to launch. Milton Champion, Executive Director of the MGCU said there is a possibility that sports betting could launch this summer, which means these rules would have to be approved in the near future.
With Maine being home to just 1.3 million people (ninth-smallest population in the U.S.), the pull to bring commercial operators to the state is relatively low already. With such strict advertising bans, sportsbooks may be even less inclined to come to the state when the upside is so low.