Maine’s top gambling regulator Milton Champion resumed control of the state’s Gambling Control Unit (GCU) on Monday after serving a weeklong unpaid suspension over inappropriate tweets from his personal Twitter account.
Officials first placed Champion, GCU’s executive director, on paid administrative leave in May after his tweets attracted the wrong attention. Since deleted, those tweets included alleged sexist name-calling and a defense of white nationalists.
After an investigation, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck announced Champion’s changed punishment last Friday. In addition to an unpaid week off, Champion must participate in workplace harassment and social media training.
Champion reportedly said he’d intended the tweets to be funny and apologized for his actions in a recent statement:
While the two tweets were intended to be humorous, I recognize they were anything but. They were a mistake and an error in judgment, and I apologize for my actions.
I thank the employees of the unit for their hard work and commitment in my absence.
Champion’s Behavior ‘Reflected Negatively’ on Gambling Control Unit
Following an investigation, the Maine Bureau of Human Resources found Champion’s social media behavior “reflected negatively on the reputation of the state’s Gambling Control Unit.”
Specifically, Champion engaged with an opinion in his Twitter feed, which argued it was inappropriate to refer to women as “ladies.”
In reply, 66-year-old Champion tweeted to his audience of 61 followers:
In this day and age, I guess ‘b@tches’ is better.
Champion’s second misstep occurred on May 14, when he flippantly tweeted a reaction to images of white nationalists marching on the US Capitol:
At least they are not burning down or looting stores.
Champion didn’t delete the tweets for another seven days despite his leave beginning on May 17.
Tribes Critize Champion-led Maine Sports Betting Rollout
Hired to lead the GCU in 2016, Champion’s profile has ballooned since Maine lawmakers approved sports betting in 2022.
He has over three decades of gambling experience, including opening casinos and serving as a regulator. Now he’s in charge of getting sports betting off the ground in Maine.
However, tribes in Maine have criticized the time taken for the state to roll out sports wagering since they received mobile-betting exclusivity. They are eager to access sports betting’s economic boost, a benefit denied to tribes previously.
Champion’s social media debacle further distracted Maine’s Indigenous sports betting stakeholders.
The state’s four tribes were first recognized in 1980 by a bill with narrower sovereignty than many other US-based tribes.
As a result, the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) has excluded Maine-based tribes. Maine’s new sports betting legislation is ostensibly a way to offset the imbalance.
However, the “best case scenario” timeline for the launch of Maine’s sports betting market is November 2023. That’s despite Maine Gov. Janet Mills signing the sports betting bill into law in May 2022.