With three months in the books, Maine sports betting is ready for the Super Bowl

With three months in the books, Maine sports betting is ready for the Super Bowl

Maine is coming off its best month of revenue since sports betting began in November, and now the state is expecting a boost from the biggest betting event of the year.

Sunday will mark Maine’s first Super Bowl since sports betting went live on Nov. 3. When the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs meet for the NFL title, in-state bettors will be able to legally bet for the first time on Super Bowl point spreads, over-and-under, and all prop and in-game bets. Billions of dollars will be wagered nationally.

“It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Super Bowl make February the biggest month of the year,” said John Holden, an Oklahoma State University professor who has written extensively on the regulation of sports gambling.

Maine heads into Super Sunday riding the momentum of what Gambling Control Board Chairman Steven Silver says has been a good start for sports betting. With November, December and January in the books, Maine has grossed over $1.4 million. January was the biggest month of the three, with the state earning $546,149 in revenue.

Maine withholds 10% in tax from all bets placed on sports betting, after payments to bettors and federal taxes.

“Three months later, the initial marketing push has gotten customers onboard and used to the app,” Silver said. “Overall, (January) was a good month for the books and the state, and it meets the projections of about $500,000 a month in tax revenue.”

DraftKings, one of two mobile sports betting providers in the state along with Caesars Sportsbook, has continued to dominate the action. Of all money wagered in Maine over the past three months, 81.5% was wagered through DraftKings.

“Maybe that will change by a few percentage points, but I think they will always be the majority player in Maine,” Silver said.

Amounts wagered during Maine’s first three months were similar to the same three months after New Hampshire launched sports betting in 2020. New Hampshire went from $38.9 million (total money wagered) in November 2020 to 43 .7 million in December and $49.4 million in January 2021. Maine went from $37.6 million in November to $44.5 million in December and $38.1 million in January.

But New Hampshire, now four years into sports betting, saw its handle exceed $67 million in both November and December 2024.

“The main reason for the increase is related to the expansion of betting opportunities,” said Daniel Maloney, director of sports betting for the New Hampshire Lottery. “Simply put, players have more betting options now. For example, same-game betting and in-game live betting are betting options that were not available at launch. There really is something for everyone now.”

In Maine, December was the lowest month for state revenue at $437,884, which came despite an increase of nearly $7 million from November to December.

“It happens,” Silver said. “Bet wins. … There are some weekends or some days where (sports books lose). In fact, sports books in the state are gambling. … You have to go back and look at how the home teams did in the playoffs, did the favorites win, things like that. When you get a group like that, you can get biased results.”

Silver said a similar dynamic could be at play Sunday.

“The question is, where is the money? Is it the Chiefs or the 49ers?” he said. “Because if it’s not balanced, you could see a loss on Super Bowl Sunday for (sports books). This is a real possibility.”

Betting on the Super Bowl is expected to increase significantly from last year. According to the American Gaming Association, 67.8 million Americans are expected to bet on the game this year, an increase of 35% from 2023, and the total amount wagered is expected to increase from $16 billion to $23.1 billion. Legal sports betting is now available for bettors in 29 states and Washington, DC, with Vermont being the latest to go live on January 11.

“We are seeing increased interest as legalized sports betting has grown,” said Cait DeBaun, AGA vice president of strategic communications and accountability. “There’s a lot of excitement about it. The growth of the market has really been driven by the migration of Americans from the illegal market to the legal market.”

Super Bowl betting practices have changed. While betting was initially limited to winners and losers and covering spreads, innovations in mobile betting have led to the popularity of in-game betting regardless of the game’s outcome.

“The increased use of technology through mobile betting has really allowed for a dynamic experience for customers,” said DeBaun. “Now with online options, there’s a lot more betting involved. Who will score the first shot? How many yards can Travis Kelce get? This makes the game more attractive to many people who choose to bet.”

Holden, the Oklahoma State professor, said prop bets have been embraced by the betting industry in recent years.

“While we’ve seen the expansion of sports betting, some regulators now allow betting on the color of Gatorade. At one time, that was just something you’d find offshore,” Holden said. “In Nevada, the fear was always that somebody could get that information maybe too easily. … We’re seeing a lot more props being offered in game. When it was really just Nevada, we didn’t see a ton of the in-game offers that you see now that have become standard across all games. In the Super Bowl, you can basically bet on every event in the game.”

Holden, however, said the most popular bets remain the traditional ones.

“When you look at the total money, you’re still seeing spread betting and cash being king here,” he said.

Spread bets are bets in which, after a favorite is selected to beat an underdog, a bettor or favorite to win by as many points or more, or to lose by fewer points or to win. Money line bets indicate how much the bettor must bet on each team to win a different amount. If a team is favored at -150, a bettor would have to bet $150 to win $100, for a total payout of $250.

Mobile betting remains the only sports betting option in Maine. None of the retail locations are yet open for sports betting.

“Everybody was so anxious and excited to get started, and now it’s kind of hit a wall,” Silver said. “There is no regulatory reason why they haven’t opened yet. It depends on the owners.”

The online market is much more profitable than personal betting. Bets placed on mobile apps accounted for 87% of all sports bets placed nationwide in 2021, according to the American Gaming Association.

Don Barberino, owner of Favorites off-track betting locations in Waterville and Sanford, said he hopes to launch sports betting “within the next six months.”

“Retail is only about 10% of the business (total sports betting). For a lot of the big companies that offer sports betting services, it’s hard for them to come in and just have retail,” he said. “What they project as potential revenue is not what they hope for. So we haven’t moved as quickly as we’d hoped there.”

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