While Maine is not a very populous area of the United Staes, its proximity to states like Massachusetts puts it in a position to benefit from any decisions made in that state. This could extend to gambling laws, especially given how much activity there has been in the last few months on the east coast of the country. Let’s have a look at the current gambling laws in Maine and how they affect its residents.
Sports Betting in Maine
When PASPA was struck down in May of 2018, many states on the east coast followed New Jersey in a frenzy to launch regulated sportsbooks. Maine was not one of the states that passed legislation that year, but it was widely expected that 2019 would be the year that residents would be able to make wagers on their favorite teams and sports in the region.
In 2019 a bill that would allow sports betting in Maine was tabled, and while it moved through both the house and the senate very quickly, Governor Janet Mills chose not to sign it into law before the end of the legislative session. This set off some alarm bells about whether or not there would be legal sports betting in the state, but it also shed light on how Maine deals with situations like this one. According to Maine state law, any bill that is passed by the house and senate but not signed by the Governor officially becomes law 3 days into the next legislative session. However, the Governor can also veto the bill in those three days. With all that said, the legislature in Maine sits January 8th again, 2020 so all eyes will be on the state come Jan 10th.
Online Sports Betting
The bill that was passed by the Main legislature in June 2019 includes a provision for online and mobile sports betting. This is excellent news, as many states have tread lightly into these waters, preferring instead to launch land-based sportsbooks initially then adding mobile afterward.
The Maine sports betting law, as written, will allow for licensees to offer digital-only solutions. While this is a win for many of the digital-driven sportsbook operators, they will be penalized with a higher tax rate than those who take bets in retail locations (16% to 10%). Regardless, this shouldn’t stop the big online brands from making their presence felt in the state.
Horse Betting in Maine
Horse racing continues to be very popular with a subset of the population of Maine, which is primarily an older crowd. However, that doesn’t stop the two tracks in the state from opening their doors and running races throughout the year (weather permitting of course).
In addition to these tracks, there are some temporary licenses that are awarded to the operators of the State fairs that take place each year. These fairs, which travel around the state form the spring to the fall, often hold their own harness races on-site, and these races are allowed to have purses and players are able to bet into these pools. This is an interesting twist on horse racing that it would seem would also be a bonus for other states looking to introduce horse racing to a larger audience.
At the two tracks and the four off-track betting facilities in Maine, gamblers are able to watch horse races from around the country via simulcast, and these races all allow gambling from these locations. The great thing about pari-mutuel betting is that there is always a pool for someone to bet into, and having these races simulcast opens them up to a significantly larger pool of gamblers.
Despite the decline in horse racing revenue, there are no casino games at the racetracks in Maine. This may be something that is reopened in 2019 as sports betting laws are introduced.
Online Horse Betting
The tracks and OTBs in Maine are not allowed to offer an online version of their product, but that doesn’t mean that residents of the state can’t place bets online. Many companies that are based in Oregon, including XpressBet, DRFBets, and Twinspires are all accepting players from Maine. It is unclear as to whether or not what these sites are doing is legal, but for the time being, players can create accounts and bet on local and national races from across the country via the various platforms.
Casino Gambling in Maine
The fact that there are no casino games in the racetracks in Maine is not indicative of the state’s position on casino gambling. In fact, there are currently two casinos that are open for business in the state (Hollywood Casino in Bangor and Oxford Casino in Oxford). Both of these properties have been given full casino licenses, meaning they can offer not just slot machines but also a full suite of table games. There are no plans to open any new casinos, and with several properties in Massachusetts and Connecticut, there are plenty of options for those who want to take a drive.
Online Casinos in Maine
At present, there is no plan to allow online casinos to be legalized in the state of Maine. In 2020, after the sports betting legislation is sorted, it is expected that lobbyists will them move their efforts to have residents be able to play slot machine and table games from the comfort of their own homes. This battle has always been much more prolonged, although seeing numbers from states who have passed this type of law like Pennsylvania and New Jersey may assist in speeding up the process.
Lottery in Maine
The Maine Lottery has been in existence for decades. Residents can play any of the daily and weekly draw games being run at the state level, and can also join into the fun of trying to win a massive jackpot in the nationally promoted Mega Millions and Powerball draws. For someone who wants an instant fix, there are also dozens of scratch tickets which range in price from $1 all the way up to $30.
Maine Gambling FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Maine?
Sports betting in Maine is agonizingly close to being legal. A bill was passed in June 2019 but not signed by the Governor then nor in a special session in the summer, leaving it on the table for closure in early January 2020. Once it passes, sports betting will be legal across the state at both the retail and online levels.
Where will I be able to make sports bets when it is legal?
Once the sports betting bill is signed into law by the governor, there will be 11 land-based licenses awarded – four to the off-track betting facilities, one to the racetrack, for to tribal gaming properties, and two to the land-based casinos. Then it will be up to each property to build and launch their sportsbook offering.
You will also be able to register for an account online at any of these facilities’ websites or any other digital-only sportsbook that is given a license. You will not need to go to a local facility to place your wagers.
What is the best online sportsbook for residents of Maine?
When the dust settles, and the sportsbooks have launched in Maine, we will offer a full review section outlining the pros and cons of each site. This includes a look at promotions, banking options, sports offered and customer service as part of an overall rating to determine which online sportsbook is the best for you.