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Maine sports betting revenue bounces back despite handle dip in April

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Maine sports betting revenue bounces back despite handle dip in April


Sports betting revenue in Maine climbed 51.9% month-on-month to $4.1m (£3.3m/€3.8m), halting three consecutive months of decline in the state, despite a fall in player spending.

Adjusted gross receipts from sports betting in April was comfortably higher than $2.7m in March. Incidentally, March’s total was the lowest monthly amount since Maine launched legal sports wagering in November last year.

Maine calculates adjusted gross receipts by subtracting voided and cancelled bets, federal excise tax and player winnings from handle. Void bets in April totalled $173,638, with federal excise tax at $93,326, and player winnings $33.9m.

The revenue increase came despite a 19.5% drop in total handle to $38.3m. Players in Maine wagered $47.6m in March, a monthly record for the state.

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DraftKings out in front in Maine

At present, sports betting is only available through two licensed operators in Maine: Caesars and DraftKings. To date, DraftKings has eclipsed Caesars, drawing significantly more wagers and turning a much higher revenue.

In April, DraftKings, partnered with the Passamaquoddy tribe, generated $3.8m in adjusted gross receipts. This came after players wagered $31.6m through the partnership.

Turning to Caesars, the operator is working with three Wabanaki nations: the Houlton band of Maliseet Indians, Mi’kmaq nation and Penobscot nation. Caesars posted $342,841 in adjusted gross receipts during April from $6.7m in bets.

As for the calendar year to date, adjusted gross receipts in Maine for the four months to April stands at $16.5m. Players have wagered a total of $157.8m.

Maine misses out on online casino

Despite the recent introduction of legal sports betting, Maine had no such success in also launching online casino.

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Talks were ongoing with tribes to roll out online casino in the state, with a bill having been put forward to pave the way to a legal market.

However, last month, the bill was declared all-but dead. In an unusual move, after the bill tribes failed to pass the house, it was still moved over to the senate. A day later, the senate declined to pass the proposal and then voted to table the issue.

This meant it could technically revisit the bill before the end of the session. However, the bill eventually died between houses in mid-April.



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Maine

Muhammad Ali's defeat of Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Maine was a knockout for the ages

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Muhammad Ali's defeat of Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Maine was a knockout for the ages


What was the most iconic sports action photo of the 20th century? Was it Babe Ruth’s called shot? Willie Mays’ catch? Michael Jordan’s “the shot”? Does it matter?

It certainly matters for Lewiston, Maine. On May 25, 1965, a beguiling, perfectly timed photo of boxing legend Muhammad Ali was taken there at a small, remote stadium.

It is still a seminal image that some pundits believe is the greatest sports photo of all time. Sports photographer Neil Leifer captured the young champion in raging full color, his right arm cocked over the fallen slugger Sonny Liston. It radiates the emotional energy of the era’s most compelling athlete, appropriately known as “the Greatest.” The speedy, outspoken newcomer had not only toppled the sullen, plodding puncher Liston, he symbolized the whole 1960s decade of anger, protest and change, all captured by Leifer’s camera.

Even so, the greatness of the photo needed time to ripen. It was not on the Sports Illustrated cover, and it didn’t win any official awards at the time. But it did propel the photographer’s career and led to a plethora of accolades, including the Lucie Award for Achievement in Sports Photography.

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Lewiston’s 15 minutes of Ali fame linked it to sports history for nearly 50 years. Then, on Oct. 25, 2023, a much grimmer brush with fate left 18 dead from a shocking mass shooting. With that, the town’s identity was tragically reduced to a single name with new meaning: Lewiston. Hijacked by the unthinkable, the town is now more connected to Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Tree of Life, Uvalde, and Highland Park than it is to Ali. At least for now.

Lewiston is a picturesque community of 37,000 nestled not far from Portland. Its Ali-Liston match was one of the more significant sporting events of the 20th century. Ali, who would soon be the most famous human on earth for his international matches and political activism, had delivered a sudden, pervasive blow to both Liston and the establishment. Could the specter of Ali’s pivotal moment eventually decouple Lewiston from its more tragic identity?

Ali vs. Liston, over in less than two minutes

Ali began as a brash, outspoken challenger, then surprised the world when he won the title, converted to Islam, and dropped his given name Cassius Clay. He immediately rankled the sports world with his uncompromising wit, criticism and protests. Every Ali title fight became an extravaganza. Ali actually defeated the heavy-fisted Liston twice, first in Miami Beach on Feb. 25, 1964, followed by the Lewiston rematch in 1965. Ali stunned the sports world both times.

Even fate played a role. Fight promoters originally planned the highly anticipated rematch for Boston, but criticism of Ali for his Black Muslim connections was growing, plus Liston had his own issues with the law stemming from alleged connections to organized crime. Boston’s Suffolk County district attorney sought to block the fight, so its backers pulled the match from Boston just 18 days before the scheduled bout.

Maine Gov. John Reed quickly offered Lewiston. Less than 150 miles from Boston, it was home to the Central Maine Youth Center that could seat up to 4,500 people on short notice. With the fight back on, the media and onlookers flooded Lewiston. But it took under two minutes for Ali to knock Liston out.

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The image of Ali’s taunting was captured by two different photographers. One of them, Leifer, took his photo in color. The Lewiston arena even added to the photo’s mood. Boxing attracted legions of cigar-smoking fans in those days, so given the small stadium, a smoky bluish haze added a mystical aura over Ali. Experts consider composition, timing, subject matter, lighting, emotion and narrative in evaluating a photograph. Ali at Lewiston nailed them all.

Lewiston’s shooting tragedy promptly cast a pall over the town’s charm, solitude and link to Ali. America has almost become numb to frequent mass shootings at multiple towns, schools, clubs and synagogues. Columbine will always be the dark Columbine, Sandy Hook the tragic Sandy Hook, and the July 4, 2022 parade attack in Highland Park, Illinois, will always trigger a local Independence Day sadness. (That one took place in my own neck of the woods.)

Since I represented Ali once in 1990 and spent a two-hour lunch with him at Chicago’s Gene & Georgetti’s steak house, I can attest to his timeless charisma. So there is still hope for Lewiston. If a community was famous to begin with, it might overcome the stain of a mass shooting. In Las Vegas, its gaudy image has survived tragedy. Can Lewiston reclaim its Ali glory? It can. But for most of America, being famous for a shooting, rather than in spite of one, is becoming a uniquely grim burden.

Eldon Ham is a member of the faculty at IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law, teaching sports, law and justice. He is the author of five books on the role of sports history in America.

The Sun-Times welcomes letters to the editor and op-eds. See our guidelines.

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The views and opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chicago Sun-Times or any of its affiliates.





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Police response to Maine mass shooting gets deeper scrutiny from independent panel

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Police response to Maine mass shooting gets deeper scrutiny from independent panel


LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — Problems with police communication and coordination in the fraught hours after Maine’s deadliest mass shooting will be under scrutiny Friday from an independent commission, which plans to hear more testimony from law enforcement sources.

Well-meaning officers creating chaos by showing up without being asked and officers believed to have arrived intoxicated in a tactical vehicle are among the “disturbing allegations” that have come before the commission, Chair Daniel Wathen said last week.

The details were outlined in an after-action report by police in Portland, Maine, which is about a 45-minute drive south of where the shooting took place in Lewiston.

However, it’s unclear exactly what’s on the table for Friday’s meeting. Wathen said some of the things contained in the report were outside the scope of the commission’s work and best handled by police supervisors.

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Eighteen people were killed and 13 injured by an Army reservist at a bowling alley and a bar and grill in Lewiston. The shooter fled the scene in a vehicle that was abandoned in a nearby town.

The commission previously heard testimony from law enforcement officials about the evening of Oct. 25, when law enforcement agencies mobilized for a search as additional police officers poured into the region. State Police took over coordination of the search for the gunman, whose body was found dead from suicide two days later.

Some of the tense moments came when law enforcement located the gunman’s vehicle several hours after the shooting.

State police used a cautious approach, angering some officers who wanted to immediately search the nearby woods. Well-meaning police officers without any official assignment began showing up, raising concerns of police firing on each other in the darkness. The arrival of so many officers also contaminated the scene, making it all but impossible to use dogs to track the gunman.

At one point, a tactical vehicle from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office nearly crashed into another tactical vehicle from the Portland Police Department near that scene. A Portland Police Department after-action report suggested the occupants of the Cumberland County vehicle had been drinking but the sheriff denied that his deputies were intoxicated.

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Representatives of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and Portland Police Department said they weren’t sending officers to testify Friday.

The commission was appointed by the governor and is comprised of seven members including mental health professionals and former prosecutors and judges. Wathen is a former Maine chief justice.





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Maine EMS celebrates the 50th National EMS Week

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Maine EMS celebrates the 50th National EMS Week


AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) – May 19-25, 2024, marks the 50th anniversary of National EMS Week. This year’s theme is “Honoring Our Past, Forging Our Future.”

Friends of Maine for EMS, EMS professionals, and state lawmakers gathered in Augusta Thursday at the Maine EMS Memorial and Education site for a tribute to those in emergency medical services.

Every aspect of the EMS system was represented.

“It certainly does remind us of the need to acknowledge the foundational work of those who came before us while also striving to build and lead the EMS system we envision for our future,” Speaker of the House Rachel Talbot Ross told those in attendance.

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Over the past decades, Maine has experienced the loss of EMS providers in the line of duty.

Eight EMS community members were honored Thursday.

Maine EMS has come a long way in 50 years, but Friends of EMS for Maine, which was founded in 2019, says more work needs to be done to support those who care for us.

“We are in trouble as a system. There is no question about it,” said Kevin McGinnis, President of Friends of EMS for Maine.

In addition, lawmakers spoke about this essential service we often take for granted.

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“The time and commitment that you put in for the training and the time away from your families, it doesn’t go unnoticed,” said Senate President Troy Jackson.

In 2022, the state legislature established the Blue Ribbon Commission to help learn more about the challenges EMS professionals face and how to address those.

In February 2024, the commission issued its final report with recommendations to provide more funding for EMS, increase MaineCare reimbursement rates for ambulance services, among others.

Members say progress has been made, but not enough.

“This session ended with some work of the Blue Ribbon Commission being lost. We will not stand for that,” said Rep. Suzanne Salisbury, D-Westbrook, a member of the EMS Blue Ribbon Commission. “We will come back in the next session and bring that work back. The time for action is now. We will not slow down. Lives depend on it.”

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“Everyone in our towns must know the essentialness of your service and that it costs,” said Sen. Chip Curry, D-Waldo, co-chair of the EMS Blue Ribbon Commission.

“We made long overdue investments in this system, and I know it is just a start but with these great people we’re going to continue to send a strong signal of what is to come and what’s needed,” Jackson added.



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