Milton Champion, the executive director of Maine’s Gambling Control Unit, has been placed on paid leave. The decision, which was first reported by the Portland Press Herald, comes after Champion posted a pair of tweets this month that were considered offensive.
“I can confirm that Director Champion has been placed on paid administrative leave, pending a review that is being conducted by the Bureau of Human Resources,” Maine State Police Lt. Thomas Pickering, an acting spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety, told Sports Handle via email. “Given that this is an ongoing, personnel-related matter, the Department is unable to comment further.”
The administrative leave began on May 17, according to Pickering.
The Gambling Control Unit, which is overseen by the Department of Public Safety, regulates sports betting in Maine. Champion played an important role in the state’s drafting of regulations and awarding of licenses. Maine has yet to launch legalized sports wagering, but a launch is expected in either late 2023 or early 2024. It’s unclear how Champion’s absence could impact the state’s regulatory process.
The tweets in question
The first of Champion’s controversial tweets used a derogatory term to refer to women.
“While waiting for my truck to be serviced I’m looking for the answer to a recent comment to me stating that the description ‘Ladies’ meaning more than one female is not professional or appropriate,” Champion wrote on May 6. “In this day and age I guess ‘Bitches’ is better.”
Champion sent another controversial tweet on May 14, replying to a post from journalist Brian Krassenstein that showed a white nationalist group marching in Washington, D.C.
“At least they are not burning down cities and looting stores,” Champion posted.
The two tweets, which were available Monday evening, have since been deleted. Champion’s Twitter account is still active, and his account bio includes the line, “My opinions are my own.” Champion only has 67 Twitter followers, but one of those is the Maine Gambling Control Unit.
Ohio Lottery director removed
Champion becomes the second gaming regulator to get caught up in controversy in the last two months.
Former Ohio Lottery Director Pat McDonald abruptly retired in April. McDonald and the lottery, among other duties, were in charge of regulating sports betting kiosks across Ohio.
An investigation into McDonald determined that he sent inappropriate text messages to employees, commented on the appearance of two employees, and touched a pair of employees without their permission.
Initially, Gov. Mike DeWine’s office announced that McDonald was retiring due to medical concerns. It later came out that McDonald was actually being investigated for HR violations after employee complaints about his behavior.