Maine Gambling Control Unit chief Milt Champion is back at work this week after serving a weeklong suspension without pay for sending inappropriate tweets from his personal account. Champion was initially placed on administrative leave May 17, before the Public Safety Commission completed an investigation and suspended Champion without pay for five days.
Champion was the second gaming chief in the U.S. this year to be accused of improper conduct. The other, former Ohio Lottery Director Pat McDonald, is no longer with that agency.
“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,” Champion said in a statement published by the Associated Press. “I thank the employees of the unit for their hard work and commitment in my absence.”
Maine lawmakers legalized sports betting in May 2022, and Champion’s suspension came as the Gambling Control Unit was developing regulations. So far, the unit has released proposed regulations and is currently reviewing comments from stakeholders.
Champion had previously said that wagering would launch in late 2023 or early 2024. The new law gives the state’s four tribes a monopoly on digital wagering, and in May, Caesars Sportsbook became the first to announce a partnership in the state. Two existing retail casinos will be allowed to have brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.
According to the Gambling Control Unit website, there will be a meeting later this month, though no date is listed. Meetings are usually held on the third Tuesday of the month, which would be July 18.
Champion to undergo harassment training
Champion, who has been involved in gambling regulation in Florida and Maine, was hired by the state of Maine in 2016. Beyond the unpaid suspension, Champion will be required to go through workplace harassment training and issue apologies on social media.
The tweets in question, which have been removed from Champion’s personal accounts, involved referring to women as “ladies” and a more derogatory term, according to the AP. They also included a tasteless joke in response to a tweet about a group of white supremacists marching on the U.S Capitol.
In May, an investigation by an independent group found that ex-Ohio lottery director McDonald sent inappropriate text messages to two employees and also hugged or touched them without their consent, according to the Columbus Dispatch. McDonald resigned abruptly, citing “medical reasons” in April.