Online Gambling For Real Money in Maine
Maine has always been a state with plenty of people on both sides of the gambling question, to allow or not to allow. The in favor of gambling side has been in the lead with this battle since 1935, although this battle has been a long one and the wins along the way have been very hard-fought.
Maine could be characterized as mildly progressive toward gambling, which the fact that their allowing commercial casinos alone places them in this category. Their adding sports betting to their casino and racino has really shown a surge on the progressive side, and this portends of even more improvements that may be on the way soon. We’ll walk you through the entire Maine real money gambling scene, including everything you can gamble at in Maine right now, as well as what may be coming.
History of Gambling in Maine
Maine spent its first century as a state opposed to gambling, and all gambling in the state was prohibited until 1935, when they legalized pari-mutuel racing. While horse racing in Maine goes back to the 19th century, there were no tracks set up for this kind of betting at the time and it was not until 1950 that the state’s first pari-mutuel track was built, Scarborough Downs.
The next change in Maine’s gambling frontier came in 1973, when the Penobscot Indian tribe opened up a bingo hall on their tribal lands. This was well before the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which gave federally regulated Indian tribes the legal right to offer gambling on their tribal lands, which didn’t happen until 1988.
Bingo at the time was not legal in Maine, but this was at a time where the winds of change were blowing in the state, the year that the state saw a referendum pass to authorize the establishment of a state lottery. The Maine Lottery sold its first ticket in 1974, and bingo became legalized the next year, in 1975.
The passing of the federal Indian Gaming Act did cause the tribes in many states to open up casinos, although the practice was to have tribes enter pacts with their states which was subject to a negotiation process, to seek common ground between states and tribes.
The Penobscot tribe settled for an upgrade to their bingo offerings, where they could now offer high-stakes bingo, of the sort that got the whole tribal gambling movement off the ground in California and Florida, where tribes defied states by operating these high-stakes bingo halls in defiance of state law, based upon claims of legal sovereignty.
The Supreme Court of the United States ended up agreeing with the tribes, and this legal ruling is what spawned the great expanse of casinos that we now see in the country, going from a time where there were only two states that offered casino gambling to almost all states offering it today.
While the Penobscot have continued to only offer bingo, watching many other states end up allowing casinos of some sort, either by way of reaching treaties with the Indians or even allowing non-tribal casinos, in 2004, Maine made the decision to allow its first casino gambling.
The Bangor Raceway was awarded a license to offer slots, when the racetrack was bought by Penn National Gaming, who upgraded it to a casino hotel and became renamed the Hollywood Casino and Hotel Bangor. Slots were initially rolled out to add to the horse racing action, and casino table games were added to the assortment in 2012.
In 2010, Maine got its first stand-alone casino, the Oxford Casino and Hotel, now owned by Churchill Downs who bought it in 2013. It might be a little ironic that the state’s racetrack was bought by a casino company, and their casino was bought by a racehorse company, but Churchill Downs is very involved in the casino business these days. Both casinos remain in operation today, although the same can’t be said for Scarborough Downs, which ran its last race in 2020.
The owners are planning on building another track in another location in the state though, so although we may think that Maine left Scarborough Downs to die when they did not award a slot license to them as well, it is in the most populous part of the state that is now unserved, so a comeback may be realistic.
Maine is now down to the bingo hall, a racino, and a casino, but there is at least an effort to expand this and build a casino in the southern part of the state. The lobbying on both sides has become intense, and it seems just a matter of time before the winds of change will blow again in Maine.
Maine Key Facts
- Abbreviation: ME
- State Motto: Dirigo (Latin for “I lead”, “I guide”, or “I direct”)
- Capital City: Augusta
- Largest City: Portland
- Population Estimate: 1.34 Million (42nd)
- Website: www.maine.gov
Maine Gambling Laws
Maine is not one of those states whose gambling laws either are unclear or have holes in them. Maine’s laws are designed to prohibit all forms of gambling, other than what they say you can gamble at, and in their case, they have been completely successful in doing so.
Over the border in New Hampshire, their gambling law only bans bets on contingent events not under one’s control or influence, which actually has a big hole in it since a lot of gambling is under one’s control or influence, poker for instance as well as several variations of table games such as blackjack or casino poker.
The missing part to close this all off is to also prohibit games that involve chance to some degree, which all of these exceptions do involve. Whether poker is primarily a game of chance or skill is subject to considerable debate, but Maine settles the matter of whether or not it or any other game dependent upon chance in any way is included by defining the degree of chance as influencing the outcome in a manner that cannot be overcome by skill.
This might be a convoluted way to define this, but means that any bet that chance is not negated by skill, where chance remains as an influencer in the outcome, is against the law to play. All that is left is purely skill-based betting where you have an influence on the outcome of the bet.
This was exactly the intention, as if they wanted to include everything, they could have just prohibited betting on contingent events period, so the inclusion of the outcome not being under your influence does outlaw sports betting but does allow for betting on yourself, bets on yourself that do not involve chance, like betting on yourself in a game of pool for instance.
As is common, there are people out there that wonder whether online gambling is legal or not in Maine given that it is not mentioned specifically in the law, but if a law bans a certain activity generally, like what Maine gambling law bans, we need to distinguish enough as being outside the scope of the law to claim legality.
An example of where states may mess up with this is with making the using gambling devices illegal. Online gambling would not normally consist of using a gambling device where these devices are understood as being at least primarily designed for gambling. Maine does not rely on anything like this, and the act of wagering on prohibited games or events is what defines the action.
Maine defines gambling devices as anything used for the purpose of gambling apart from whatever other uses they may have, which succeeds in including gambling with a device online. The intent of this provision is not to extend the scope of the meaning of gambling, as it instead tightens up the law against offering it commercially, but should really put an end to the idea that there is even the possibility that online gambling may be legal in the state of Maine.
Land-Based Gambling in Maine
Maine is one of the smallest states in the country, in both population and area, and also has one of the smallest gambling footprints as well.
Betting on horses has been around in Maine since 1950, and while the old Scarborough Downs is now gone, it’s sister track, the Bangor Raceway, is very much alive and well, and is at the present time the only pari-mutuel racetrack in the state.
Bangor Raceway got a real boost when it was allowed to become a racino in 2004, when they got the opportunity to offer slot machines as well. Their initial 450 slots grew over the years to a good sized casino offering a full selection of slots and table games.
Now called the Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway Bangor, it looks nothing like the horse racing track of old with a 148 room hotel, 2 restaurants and a snack bar, and a lounge with live entertainment. It features 1,000 slot and video poker machines, 12 casino table games, a 4 table poker room, keno, and bingo to go along with betting on horse races.
The Oxford Casino Hotel just offers casino games, but its 970 slots and 28 table games offers the most gambling in the state overall, not having as quite as many slots as the Hollywood Casino but with considerably more table games. The Oxford also features a 107 room hotel, 3 restaurants, and an event center.
Given that there are only two casinos in the state, it shouldn’t be too surprising that charity bingo remains pretty popular. For those who crave higher stakes than at your local church, the Penobscot tribe offers high stakes bingo on their tribal land.
The fact that the Penobscot’s bingo hall has 1,800 seats explains why the tribe hasn’t pushed too hard for more, and this also shows just how popular bingo is in Maine. The tribe offers 2 take out eateries and an ice cream parlor to provide food and refreshments to their bingo players.
The Maine Lottery rounds out the list of legal gambling operations in Maine. The Maine Lottery is a full-service interstate lottery and offers all of the popular lottery games. It sold its opened in 1974 and is still going strong today, and does particularly well in a state with such a limited number of other gambling options.
While social gambling is legal, in order to host a home game legally you have to get a charity to sponsor the event, as playing without this runs afoul of Maine’s comprehensive gambling law. This doesn’t mean that people don’t do this though, as the risk of getting caught is slim and this only matters if the state wants to prosecute this type of gambling, and they do not.
List of Land Based Casinos in Maine
Casino Address Phone Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway Bangor 500 Main St, Bangor, ME 04401 877-779-7771 Oxford Casino Hotel 777 Casino Way, Oxford, ME 04270 207-539-6700
Maine Online Casinos & Slots Gambling
Maine showed its willingness to entertain online gambling when they passed a bill approving online daily fantasy sports in 2018. We may wonder why they felt they needed a law to legalize this, given that it is not based upon chance and within the player’s sphere of influence, and this goes to show you how states don’t really look very carefully at their own laws.
Maine is not unique in this regard as several other states have approved this without even a hint of the practice being against the law. Daily fantasy sports even isn’t gambling, but this did perhaps take Maine a little closer at least to actual online gambling.
In 2020, Maine joined the growing list of states that passed a bill that legalized sports betting, both land-based and online. The bill was vetoed by the governor, but the state senate overrode the veto and the bill became law. This goes to show that there is still quite a bit of resistance to gambling in Maine, but this bill did manage to squeak out a victory.
Sports betting is now on the way and this is a huge boost for Maine gamblers who were not aware of the fact that they could have bet on sports all along with nothing to stop them. However, there are benefits from betting at state sanctioned sites, like not having to pick your own sites and instead being presented with a reliable option instead of having to navigate the world of offshore real money gambling on your own.
It’s not that either of these things stop people though, as even though you cannot use credit cards or internet wallets at these offshore sites anymore, there are still very good options like Bitcoin where you just have to do a bit more work but once you are set up you are good to go. The people that want to be able to see the path your money takes hate Bitcoin, because they can’t track it. That’s perfect for offshore gambling.
As far as knowing where the best places to play are, that’s where we come in, as experts on offshore gambling, covering not only real sports betting but real money online poker and real money casino as well. It is very important to get this guidance as otherwise you won’t know where you should be playing at and are left to learning at the school of hard knocks.
As far as whether online gambling is against the law, it definitely is, apart from what they authorize, betting on sports at their regulated sites for instance. It is worth noting though that Maine does not have the means to monitor offshore gambling that occurs within the state, as there is no mechanism in place to do so.
Players also have the ability to connect to their favorite offshore real money gambling sites through a VPN, a private network that prevents anyone even in theory from tracking your internet activity. People use these in countries that try to block certain online gambling sites and this removes this obstacle. They don’t use it to prevent tracking as that can’t be done, but if it could, this would stop it for you.
Once Mainers can start betting on sports online, this will take away the need to bet at real money offshore sports betting sites, but the coming of state regulated real money poker and real money casino games is some time away. Mainers who wish to play these other two games simply need to decide to do it.
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Future of Gambling in Maine
Maine took a big step forward when they passed their sports betting bill, going from a very modest gambling footprint to allowing the entire state in on the game, at will, from anywhere in the state.
A lot of states are either primarily for or against gambling, but Maine comes much closer to having a balance of the two, with the momentum on the pro gambling side lately. The people who oppose it have the upper hand though where the push toward opening up land-based casinos are concerned, although the sides are of similar strength to keep this close.
This battle is being fought over going from 2 casinos to 3, which should not be a significant decision due to their being so little difference among the two. If and when this third casino gets approved, it won’t add a whole lot to Maine’s land-based gambling scene, but you have to get to 3 before you can go beyond, and each win adds momentum to the progressive side.
The same is the case with real money online gambling, where the first win is always the hardest, going from none to one as Maine just has. With the momentum from this, this makes the second and third one easier, the two that remain to be approved, online casino and online poker.
There’s quite a bit of room for Maine gambling to grow, but the state is certainly moving in the right direction lately. While Mainers can’t do anything about the small number of land-based gambling options in the state, as they wait for more to be approved, they don’t really have to wait to extend the reach of their real money online gambling to all three types of gambling, as this is all available right now for those who seek it.
Those Mainers who do seek real money online casino gambling and real money poker just need to decide that they want to check out our top recommended sites for players from Maine just need to choose to do it, and we will then lead the way.
Maine Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
How did Maine approach gambling when it became a state in 1820?
While gambling was popular in the American colonies and during the early days of America, Maine became a state at a time where support for gambling had been overcome by those opposed to it. Statehood and banning gambling in Maine happened together, all gambling that is, which remained the case until 1935 when the state approved its first legal form of gambling ever.
How did Maine start out its legal gambling life?
After seeing several states around the country started legalizing pari-mutuel wagering at the start of the Great Depression in the early 1930’s, including neighboring state New Hampshire, Maine got involved in the game in 1935. There were no racetracks set up for wagering on the races at the time though, and there weren’t even any planned. Maine didn’t get its first pari-mutuel track until 1950.
What does Maine gambling law prohibit?
Maine law prohibits risking things of value on the outcome of games of chance or on contingent events not under your control or influence. The provision against these contingent events are designed to describe betting on events such as sports, which the bettor does not have influence over. Maine defines chance as having any element of it influencing the outcome, which takes care of all casino games as well as poker.
Does Maine have legal charitable or social gambling?
Maine does allow an exception for charitable gambling, and charitable bingo is quite popular in this state in spite of people being able to choose other options these days including playing the lottery. The social aspect of bingo does count here though. Social gambling, where only the players benefit, has not been excluded from Maine gambling law, although no one has ever been arrested in Maine for this.
Does Maine have any tribal gaming?
Maine does have a federally recognized Indian tribe, the Penobscot, and this tribe has been offering gambling for quite a while now, since 1973 in fact. The Penobscot even defied the law for a time, although just 2 years later the state legalized bingo and this allowed the tribe to not have to wrestle with the state over this. Later, Maine agreed to allow the tribe the ability to offer high-stakes bingo, which remains the only form of tribal gaming in the state.
What pari-mutuel options does Maine offer?
Up until late 2020, Maine had 2 pari-mutuel tracks where you could bet on horse races at, the Bangor Raceway and Scarborough Downs. Bangor Raceway got bought out by casino company Penn National Gaming, who had a deal to offer slot machines at the track, and this has served to keep horse racing alive and well in Maine. Scarborough Downs was not so lucky and ended up closing down, although a replacement track is in the works.
Does Maine have any casino gambling?
The transition from the Bangor Raceway to the Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway Bangor turned this track into a racino, where they originally added slots to their horse racing cards and later were allowed to add casino table games as well. The Oxford Casino Hotel was later added to the state’s casino lineup, and although they only offer casino games, Maine having a stand-alone casino was a real step up.
Does Maine have any real money online gambling options?
Many states saw a push toward approving sports betting once the federal law that tried to prevent them from doing this got struck down, and Maine is now among those states that have successfully passed sports betting bills. Maine chose the full package by approving both land-based and online sports betting, which is coming soon. Mainers still are limited to offshore sites when it comes to real money online casino and online poker.
What are the prospects of Maine gambling opening up more soon?
In spite of the fairly modest achievements that this state has managed thus far, Maine appears to be at a turning point where we may see more progress on both the online scene and with the potential expansion of land-based gambling as well. The state just got its first online gambling, and there are plans to try to build another casino in the state, as well as replacing the horse racetrack that they recently lost.
Can Mainers enjoy real money online gambling at offshore gambling sites?
While Maine gamblers now have state regulated online sports betting, which is pretty exciting in itself, many gamblers also enjoy online casino games and online poker. There are several great sites that you can enjoy these other two types of online gambling at, licensed and regulated elsewhere. Given that there’s no way that the state can catch anyone doing this, many players from Maine choose to take advantage of this. We’ll show you the best offshore sites to choose.