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Online Gambling in Maine: an Expert Guide

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Gambling in Maine

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Our Guide to Online Gambling in Maine

Maine gambling laws are middle-of-the-road when it comes to most forms of gambling. In the past few decades, Maine’s politics have been split between Democrats and Republicans. The state has an Independent Senator, a Democrat legislature, and (until 2018) a Republican governor. In the past, new gambling laws had to be passed on a bipartisan basis, so it allowed for a moderate, sensible amount of legalized gambling.

Maine has a handful of bingo halls and racetracks, which support a horse racing industry and off-track betting. Maine gamblers have one land-based casino, but rejected a proposal to legalize a second brick-and-mortar casino in 2016. The state does not allow online gambling of any kind.

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Maine Online Gambling Laws FAQ

Maine Online Gambling Laws

Maine has a broad definition of gambling, so most forms of gaming fall under the definition. This has longstanding and perpetual implications for any innovation forms of gambling which exist now, or might exist in the future.

Section 952(4)

Staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.

Instead of making a specific list of the forms of gambling like other states, the Maine Constitution’s Section 952(11) says that anything “not expressly authorized by statute” is defined as “unlawful gambling”. The absence of a reference makes a form of gambling illegal, which meant online and mobile gambling immediately became illegal upon its creation.

Gamblers should pay attention to the phrase “contest of chance”, because any game defined as a “contest of chance” is considered gambling in Maine. “Social gambling” is specifically defined, because it involves charitable gambling and some tribal gaming.

Section 952(4)

“Social gambling” is gambling, or a contest of chance, in which the only participants are players and from which no person or organization receives or becomes entitled to receive something of value or any profit whatsoever, directly or indirectly, other than as a player, from any source, fee, remuneration connected with said gambling, or such activity as arrangements or facilitation of the game, or permitting the use of premises, or selling or supplying for profit refreshments, food, drink service or entertainment to participants, players or spectators.

Section 952(4) provides for charitable gambling, though only a handful of bingo parlors exist in the state. The Penobscot Tribe organizes “high stakes bingo”, but tribal gaming laws are complicated in Maine.

IS GAMBLING LEGAL IN THE STATE OF MAINE?

Casino gambling, lotteries, and pari-mutuel betting are legal and regulated.

Maine has four recognized Native American tribes: the Penobscot Nation, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Houlton Band of Maliseets, and the Aroostook Band of Micmacs. Many New England tribes did not have their lands recognized by the US Department of the Interior prior to 1934, which is a huge disadvantage. In 2014, LD 1520 sought to give tribes the right to open gaming venues, but the bill failed to pass.

DOES MAINE HAVE LAND-BASED CASINOS?

Maine has one traditional land-based casino: Oxford Casino in the city of Oxford. Oxford Casino is owned by Churchill Downs Inc. these days, though an in-state development group championed the Oxford Casino until it was opened in 2013.

Maine also has a racetrack-casino, usually known as a racino: Hollywood Casino & Hotel in Bangor. Hollywood Casino is owned by Penn National Gaming, a Pennsylvania-based company which has a string of Hollywood Casinos throughout the United States. Hollywood Casino was founded by a local developer named Shawn Scott in 2003. When questions arose about Mr. Scott’s ethics, he sold the casino to Penn National.

In 2017, Shawn Scott backed the York County casino project, which was designed to bring a third casino to Maine. Due to a series of public relations blunders and an ethics probe which ended in a $4 million fine, a statewide referendum voted down the York County casino project.

DOES MAINE HAVE ANY LEGAL BETTING TRACKS / SHOPS?

Yes, Maine has 11 horse tracks and a smattering off-track betting facilities. The Maine State Harness Racing Commission regulates horse racing and harness racing. Since 1993, dog racing has been banned in Maine.

DOES MAINE ALLOW OFF-TRACK BETTING?

Yes, Maine has 3 off-track betting facilities. Many states have more off-track betting facilities than full racetracks, but Maine is the opposite. With 11 racing facilities, it makes little sense to authorize off-track betting venues. The locations which do exist have simulcasting.

IS SOCIAL GAMING ALLOWED IN MAINE?

Yes, the social gambling laws are detailed in Section 952(4) of Maine’s gambling laws. A few bingo halls exist, while the Penobscot Tribe offers high stakes bingo.

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