Maine Gambling Sites - A Guide to Gambling in Maine
Like many of its Northeastern neighbors, the state of Maine has traditionally opposed most forms of gambling throughout its history, owed to the influence of Puritan settlers during the colonial era.
But during the last half century or so, most Mainers have had a change of heart when it comes to gambling. Thanks to the state's system which puts citizen proposed initiatives on the ballot, that shift in attitudes has led to several steps towards relaxing previously strict prohibitions.
Gamblers in Maine aren't exactly living in Sin City just yet, but today they have access to a pair of state-licensed casinos, a tribally operated bingo hall, harness racing tracks, a state lottery and various social and charitable games. Among the gambling activities that are still on the outs, however, are greyhound racing, tribal casinos and online activities like casino, slots, poker and daily fantasy sports (DFS).
Clearly then, the law in Maine is constantly changing to keep up with the times, a condition which can leave residents and visitors alike unclear on exactly what they can and cannot gamble on.
To help bridge this knowledge gap, we've compiled info onto this page to serve as a comprehensive guide to gambling in Maine. Here you'll find a discussion on the nebulous world of online gambling laws - or the lack thereof - along with a rundown of the key statutes on the books, a listing of gambling venues in the state, a timeline showing the state's history when it comes to gambling laws and a slew of additional resources.
When you're finished absorbing the information below, be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to take a one question poll about your views on the subject.
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Online Gambling and Maine Law
For the more than a million residents of Maine, online gambling entered a legal "grey zone" during the last decade.
Following the Chris Moneymaker inspired poker boom of 2003, online gambling became all the rage, and sites like PokerStars and PartyPoker quickly built themselves into billion-dollar enterprises. With a clear lack of federal regulation to cover online gambling, the government was left out in the proverbial cold, forced to watch as millions of Americans conducted business with sites owned and operated offshore.
Eventually, something had to give. That occurred in 2006 when Congress slipped an amendment known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) into an unrelated port security bill. Sure that the national security measure would achieve smooth passage, Congress essentially enacted a federal ban over online gambling under cover of darkness - with no debate or discussion on the matter held in a public forum.
The terms of the UIGEA weren't aimed at players, however, but only at operators conducting online gambling business on American shores. Soon enough, sites like PartyPoker took the hint and picked up stakes, withdrawing from the U.S. market altogether by restricting access to American customers.
Others stayed, of course, with PokerStars chief among them, and over the next five years several major online gambling sites established themselves as "rogue" by continuing to serve American players.
That all changed in April of 2011, when an indictment against owners and operators of three major online poker platforms led to the industry's "Black Friday." Overnight, millions of online poker players lost access to their favorite domains, and within a year, America was rendered a wasteland in terms of regulated online gambling.
That left unregulated offshore sites to fill the void, and while you'll learn more about those in the Q&A below, sufficed to say regulation is preferable from the player's point of view.
As has become common in the industry, another curveball was thrown in the form of a revised opinion issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in December of 2011. According to the DOJ, the law used as precedent when crafting the UIGEA - a 1961 federal statute known as the Wire Act - that no longer applied.
For 50 years, between 1961 and 2011, the government held that the Wire Act - which prohibited sports bettors from placing wagers over the telephone - extended to the Internet as well. But the DOJ decided upon closer examination that the Wire Act was applicable to online sports betting only - and not casino games, slots or poker.
Immediately, states were freed from the onerous burden of the UIGEA, and given the opportunity to regulate their own online gambling industries, three took the plunge (Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware) by 2013. At least a dozen states have explored similar legislation since - including California, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Illinois - but none have achieved full passage as of this writing (July 3, 2017).
Unfortunately for online gambling enthusiasts in Maine, lawmakers there have been slow on the draw when it comes to regulation. No bills have been put forth to address the issue, despite articles appearing in the Bangor Daily News as early as January 2012 exploring online gambling's potential impact for Maine's economy.
For Mainers today, the only option that remains is offshore online gambling platforms, and fortunately, sites like (X), (Y) and (Z)* have filled the void admirably. These sites are our personal favorites among a crowded field, for several reasons really, but most of all because they've always done right by their customers.
Stuck in a state without online gambling regulations in place, players must trust one another, and seek out only the best - which is where we come in.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Maine?
Even as several states nationwide float the idea of legalizing online gambling on casino games, slots and poker, Maine remains on the proverbial sidelines.
As of now, no proposals have been put forth by the state legislature to address the industry, which leaves online gambling enthusiasts there living in legal limbo. Without laws on the books that specifically address gambling via the Internet, the issue remains largely unsettled.
Of course, you asked whether it's legal in Maine - and the answer to that is simple: no.
Until the legislature gets its act together - or individual players gather enough petitions to put online gambling on the ballot as a citizen referendum - nobody can make a legitimate argument of legality in Maine.
In fact, a close look at Title 17-A, Chapter 39, Section §952-5 of the Maine Revised Statutes shows that online gambling likely leans toward the illegal side (emphasis added):
"'Gambling device means any device, machine, paraphernalia or equipment that is used or usable in the playing phases of any gambling activity, whether that activity consists of gambling between persons or gambling by a person involving the playing of a machine.
5-A. 'Illegal gambling machine' means any machine, including electronic devices, however operated."
Obviously, desktop or laptop computers, along with mobile phones and tablets, would all fall under the category of "device." The fact that the law mentions electronic devices, while putting no limitation on how those devices are operated, would seem to pull computers into the ban's purview.
Now, with that said, nobody has been arrested - or even charged - with crimes related to gambling online in Maine. Simply put, authorities on the city and state levels have bigger fish to fry than somebody chasing flush draws from their iPad.
This answer is largely confined to traditional online gambling, which we see as casino/slots/poker, but Maine is making a bit of progress when it comes to daily fantasy sports (DFS). This relatively new form of Internet gambling is currently being considered by the state legislature, with most reports from the statehouse suggesting that lawmakers are keen on legalizing and regulating the industry.
See the first question in our FAQ section below for more details on Maine's promising daily fantasy sports (DFS) bill.
Are Offshore Gambling Sites Safe?
By and large, but players should always take precautions when considering an offshore gambling platform.
The word "regulation" has taken on nasty connotations of late, but while we may forget, regulated industries tend to work towards consumer protection more than their unregulated competitors. When it comes to online gambling and the tremendous potential for profit the industry promises operators, the temptation to take shortcuts - or even cut bait and abscond with player funds - is ever present.
During your own research, you're bound to encounter horror stories from players who won jackpots but never got paid, or built big bankrolls on sites that suspended operations with no notice. These are true stories too, for the most part - and over the years they've combined to give the online gambling industry a bad name.
Thankfully, however, the majority of operators out there realize that more money could be made by running a reputable company - as the house always wins. Why cheat your players when the odds alone ensure you'll always wind up in the black by day's end?
That's the philosophy employed by online gambling platforms like (X), (Y) and (Z)*--sites that have all worked hard over many years to build trust with their respective player bases. Rather than resort to ripping off customers, these sites take the opposite approach - treating you right and serving as a reputable source of wagering action.
The best indicator that these sites are safe should be traffic, as even the biggest sucker will refuse to frequent a venue that consistently stiffs them. When researching online gambling destinations, be sure to look for player traffic date, and player generated reviews, as these will provide the most telling glimpse into a site's integrity.
Online gambling operators like the ones we just mentioned have been around for years, or even decades, and over that span, they've each managed to keep customers coming back for more.
Can I Get Arrested for Gambling Online in Maine?
We would bet big that you won't, but never say never.
A thorough search on Google returned exactly zero mentions of anybody being arrested for gambling online in Maine, and that's in keeping with the system used throughout most of the U.S., where the legal "grey zone" and lack of regulation forces millions of Americans to take their virtual bankrolls to offshore sites.
Authorities know that the masses are playing casino games, slots and poker online, but their focus has always been on busting the operators. After all, it's the site owners who are generating massive income from businesses serving American players - without paying a penny in taxes to the government.
That's why any mention of online gambling crackdowns in the news involve operators - as players just don't matter in the eyes of the law.
Breaking down what exactly is or isn't legal in Maine. Gambling Venues in Maine
Where to gamble in the state of Maine. The History of Gaming Laws in Maine
A brief history of Maine laws regarding gambling. Maine Gambling FAQs
A list of questions asked about gambling in Maine Additional Information
Still have questions? Check out these links. The Future of Gambling in Maine
What does the future of gambling look like in Maine?
More Gambling Laws in Maine
The primary laws covering unlawful gambling in Maine fall under Title 17-A, Chapter 39, Section §952-4 of the Maine Revised Statutes, which defines illegal wagers as any situation in which a person:
"(S)takes or risks 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."
The crucial phrase in that entry is "contest of chance," which is defined by Section §952-3:
"'Contest of chance' means any game, contest, scheme or device in which:
A. A person stakes or risks something of value for the opportunity to win something of value;
B. The rules of operation or play require an event the result of which is determined by chance, outside the control of the contestant or participant; and
C. Chance enters as an element that influences the outcome in a manner that can not be eliminated through the application of skill."
To protect pub poker games and other forms of social gambling, Section §952-3 was put in place:
"'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 §954 lays out the penalties for simple acts of illicit gambling - such as playing in an unlicensed bingo game or entering a casino underage - classifying it as a Class D crime. That makes basic acts of illegal gambling punishable by imprisonment for up to 364 days and a fine of $2,000.
As for the operational side, those accused of "aggravated unlawful gambling" under Section §953 are subject to the following laws:
"A person is guilty of aggravated unlawful gambling if he intentionally or knowingly advances or profits from unlawful gambling activity by:
A. Engaging in bookmaking to the extent that the person receives or accepts in any 24-hour period more than 5 bets totaling more than $500; or
B. Receiving in connection with a lottery or mutuel scheme or enterprise, money or written records from a person other than a player whose chances or plays are represented by such money or records; or
C. Receiving in connection with a lottery, mutuel or other gambling scheme or enterprise more than $1,000 in any 24-hour period played in the scheme or enterprise."
The aggravated unlawful gambling statute covers activity like running an underground sportsbook, and as a Class B crime, the potential penalties escalate to imprisonment for up to 10 years and a $20,000 fine.
Gambling Venues in Maine
With the state government still quite hostile to tribal gaming, none of Maine's four federally recognized tribes (the Micmac, the Maliseet, the Passamaquoddy and the Penobscot) are permitted to operate full-fledged casinos.
That leaves just two state licensed casino venues to choose from, both of which are profiled below:
Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway Bangor
Type: State Licensed Commercial Casino
Opened: Racino opened in 2005, full fledged casino in 2012
Table Games: 16
Slot Machines: 923
Location: 500 Main St, Bangor, ME 04401
Phone: (877) 779-7771
Type: State Licensed Commercial Casino
Table Games: 22
Slot Machines: 848
Location: 777 Casino Way, Oxford, ME 04270
Phone: (207) 539-6700
In addition to the two casinos listed above, Maine is home to several venues for harness horseracing, including a pair of commercial racetracks where on-site betting is permitted. You can find a full listing of all harness racing facilities in the state here by visiting the Maine Harness Racing Directory. Information for the state's famous Scarborough Downs racetrack, where bettors can enjoy live harness races and simulcasted events, can be found below:
Type: Harness Racing Track
Table Games: 0
Slot Machines: 0
Location: 90 Payne Rd, Scarborough, ME 04074
Phone: (207) 883-4331
Finally, while the regrettable blockade against tribal gaming has precluded casinos on reservation land, Maine is home to a pair of high stakes bingo halls - one operated by the Passamaquoddy tribe on their Indian Township Reservation, and another by the Penobscot tribe on Indian Island, Old Town:
Passamaquoddy Bingo at Indian Township
Type: Tribal Bingo Hall
Table Games: 0
Slot Machines: 0
Location: RR 1, Princeton, ME 04668
Penobscot High Stakes Bingo
Type: Tribal Bingo Hall
Table Games: 0
Slot Machines: 0
Location: 6 River Road, Old Town, ME 04468
Phone: (800) 255 - 1293 / (207) 827 - 7750
History of Gambling in Maine
Voters throughout Maine make a statement with over 70 percent of ballots cast in favor of seceding from the Massachusetts Commonwealth and joining the Union as the 23rd state. The state's first system of laws.
The state's first commercial gambling facility opens with the debut of legal harness racing at Scarborough Downs.
The Maine State Lottery begins selling "Play Me" lotto tickets for $0.50 apiece, with the first drawing held on June 27.
Maine joins with New Hampshire and Vermont to create the Tri-State Lottery Commission, which was the first multi state lottery organization in America.
Votersonce again split nearly down the middle on a gambling expansion bill, with only 50.42 percent in favor of opening a commercial casino in Oxford.
The creation of the Maine State Racing Commission sets the stage for legal pari-mutuel wagering on horse races.
More than 63 percent of voters turn out in favor of Referendum Question Number 1, also known as the Maine State Lottery Referendum, thus authorizing Maine's first legalized lottery program.
Following approval by the state legislature, Title 17, Chapter 12-A is added to the Maine Revised Statutes to legalize bingo under certain conditions.
Voters narrowly pass Question 2, also known as the Maine Slot Machines at Commercial Horse Racetracks initiative, by a 52.9 percent margin - paving the way for "racinos" to open one year later.
Voters in Penobscot County turn out to support a ballot measure allowing for casino style table games to be added to the existing Hollywood Slots facility. By 2012, both Hollywood and Oxford Casino are home to a full complement of games like blackjack and roulette.
The latest effort to extend casino rights to federally recognized tribes dies in the state legislature.
Maine Gambling FAQ
You've had to digest a ton of dense legal matter over the course of this page, and if you're anything like us, every answer seems to lead to more questions.
We're big fans of participatory learning here, so we'll try to anticipate a few of those questions below, complete with everything we can find on the subject:
Not exactly, because if you remember that old Schoolhouse Rock cartoon called "How a Bill Becomes a Law," the state legislature is only the penultimate step in the process. Once the House and Senate sign off on a law, it's up to the Governor - the much maligned Paul LePage in this case - to add his signature and make things official.
Back in April, state senator Roger Katz (R-Augusta) introduced LD-1320, also known as An Act to Regulate and Tax Sports Fantasy League Activities in Maine. In the bill's initial draft, Katz provided the following outline of LD-1320's construction:
"LD 1320 provides a legal framework for the operating of skills-based fantasy sports content in Maine. Consistent with legislation in other states, the bill provides a legal definition of fantasy sports contests, regulation and oversight, including a $5,000 registration fee that is capped at 10% of revenue to accommodate startups or smaller operators, and a series of common-sense consumer protection regulations that are consistent with industry standards. The bill also clarifies that fantasy sports contests that meet the bill's definition are not gambling under Maine law.
More than 200,000 Mainers participate in some form of fantasy sports contest, without any regulations. Also, there is no mention of fantasy sports in our current law, so companies are operating with a small degree of uncertainty."
The effort to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports (DFS) across Maine then languished in committee for three months, being tabled three times in the process.
Based on the provisions of LD-1320, DFS would be defined under the following terms:
"(A) simulated game or contest in which one or more players pay an entry fee and compete for and win prizes of value based on outcomes that reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the players and that are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals, including athletes in the case of sporting events."
But within days of this writing (July 3, 2017), news has begun to trickle out of the statehouse which suggests that LD-1320 will be passed by both the House and Senate.
During the recent debates within the legislature, state representative Kathleen Dillingham (R-Oxford)
"I would ask that you support the motion, move forward and make sure that we are able to have regulations in place for this industry and that we ensure there are consumer protections for the 215,000 participants in the state of Maine."
Of course, there are a few lawmakers who are still steadfastly opposed to progress on the DFS front, but the bill's current status shows a majority voting for "Ought to Pass as Amended." A formal vote hasn't taken place just yet, but that could be coming the upcoming days or weeks, so stay tuned.
But as we discussed to start this answer off, even if the House and Senate both vote as expected and push LD-1320 through, it will still require Governor LePage's signature to become law. And unfortunately, LePage isn't exactly a fan of gambling expansion, as he's made clear in several public statements over the years.
Even so, input from the two major operators in the industry - DraftKings and FanDuel - submitted to the legislature reveals that more than 215,000 Mainers currently participate in real money DFS contests. That's over 16 percent of the state's population, so coupled with the legislature's vocal backing in the form of a vote, LePage may not have the public support to veto such a measure.
Finally, even if the Governor does bring the veto-hammer down, LD-1320 can still become law if 66 percent of the assembled legislators vote to override him.
With all that said, chances are quite high that Maine will codify its own DFS laws and regulations sometime this year. As for now though, both DraftKings and FanDuel are free to operate in the state, as Maine has no laws on the books - or even opinions rendered by the state Attorney General - stating that the games constitute illicit gambling.
It sure has, thanks to a ballot initiative passed by Penobscot County voters in November of 2011.
The vote authorized the Hollywood Slots facility which you visited - that name might have been a clue - to offer full fledged casino table games. Within six months' time, Hollywood Slots transformed into the Hollywood Casino we know today, installing 14 table games throughout the floor.
Players now have access to Las Vegas favorites like blackjack, roulette, three card poker and even Texas Hold'em in a dedicated poker room. With betting at all stakes on the table games, and a mix between cash games and tournaments in the poker room, Hollywood Casino is now deserving of the name.
If you're still sour on that venue in particular, try the Oxford Casino, located about two hours to the southwest. You didn't miss it last time either, as Oxford Casino debuted in 2012 following a public referendum the year before.
Sadly, they don't have a poker room, but the selection of table games is much wider, with 22 tables spreading the following games:
- Big 6 Wheel
- Mini Baccarat
- Mississippi Stud
- Spanish 21
- Three Card Poker
- Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em
Between these two state licensed casino venues, Maine is a much different destination for gamblers than it was at the time of your visit.
In order to run a legal bingo game, you'll need to make arrangements with the Maine State Police.
Fortunately for our fellow members of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks (BPOE), the authorities in Maine appear to be quite willing to distribute these licenses. A quick search for "bingo" + "Elks" + "Maine" returns several lodges across the state running regular bingo nights.
To add your lodge to the list, simply head to the Maine State Police website where all information on licensing for bingo, and other games of chance, can be found .
The license itself costs $400 per year - with several smaller fees covering shorter periods of play - and you can win prizes up to $1,400.
We've enjoyed the job of introducing readers to the fluctuating landscape of gambling laws in Maine, but even the best teachers must hand the reins over to their students from time to time.
The five links assembled below cover a wide swath of the state's gambling industry, allowing you to conduct your own research, locate information covering unique circumstances, and continue your legal education for years to come:
The Maine Gaming Control Board's website isn't the most expansive regulatory resource we've ever seen, but like the state's proud fishermen, it does the job without any frills. This site has everything you need to know about the way gambling laws are enforced there, along with links to necessary forms players can use to protect themselves.
Title 17-A, Chapter 39 of the Maine Revised Statutes covers crimes associated with illegal gambling, and this page includes every last word of those laws for convenient review. We recommend exploring all 11 of the sections at your leisure, but the most important are 17-A §952, which covers Definitions, and 17-A §954 on Unlawful Gambling activities.
With only two casinos to choose from, and those just two hours apart, Mainers have a choice on their hands. The pair of links above should help make that choice easier, so take a tour of each venue's website to see which one catches your eye.
The Future and Your Views
Even as regional neighbor New Jersey continues to reap enormous tax revenue and licensing fees from its regulated online gambling industry - and fellow New Englanders in Massachusetts exploring similar legislation - lawmakers in Maine remain immobilized.
The state has yet to even discuss the issue of legalizing online casinos, slot parlors and poker rooms, while daily fantasy sports (DFS) is just being brought up as we speak. Even that bill, while supported by most members of the state's Senate and House, appears doomed to fail based on Governor Paul LePage's previous opposition to any gambling expansion efforts.
To put it mildly, online gambling is simply not a priority for politicians in Maine - but that can change. Public servants are just that, after all, and their job is to serve the will of their constituents. That's why DFS is inching towards regulation, as an estimated 215,000 Mainers - or more than 16 percent of the state's population - participating as players have made their voices heard.
We invite you to do the same, as a single click on our poll below will make your voice, and that of Maine, heard loud and clear when it comes to online gambling regulation: