Maine Sports Betting & Online Gambling News
Legal sports betting is on its way to Maine, just not this year.
Despite the majority of Maine lawmakers voting for it multiple times, bills that would legalize sports betting in the state have not been signed into law.
In June 2019, Maine Legislature passed a bill that would allow a racetrack, two commercial casinos, four off-track betting (OTB) sites and high-stakes bingo facilities.
Four federally recognized Indian tribes in Maine that own and operate these sites would launch retail and online sports betting.
The bill would also allow for a fully open and competitive marketplace online by allowing operators without a physical presence in the state to participate independently. In other words, online sportsbooks would not be required by law to be attached to retail gaming operations like they are in several other states.
Operators would have a 10% tax for retail sports betting revenue and 16% online.
Single-game wagering would be allowed for most pro and college sports, except for in-state collegiate athletics.
Governor vetoes the initial sports betting bill
Gov. Janet Mills initially delayed deciding on whether to sign the bill into law.
However, on Jan. 10, Mills vetoed the sports betting bill, claiming she was “unconvinced at this time that the majority of Maine people are ready to legalize, support, endorse and promote betting on competitive athletic events.”
In February, the Maine Senate voted 20-10 to override Mills’ veto. However, a few days later, the Maine House voted 85-57 in favor of overriding the veto, failing to reach the two-thirds majority required to reverse the governor’s decision.
The result is the death of the sports betting bill for at least this current legislative session through April 15.
The sponsor, Sen. Louis Luchini, claims the bill is going to come back every legislative session going forward.
Although, the legislature will not convene for its next regular session until the first Wednesday of December (Dec. 4), which follows the general election in November.
As a result, this means Maine sports betting is dead in 2020. However, there is hope for 2021.
Lawmakers prove interested in preventing Maine residents from continuing to bet with illegal offshore operators or travel to New Hampshire, Rhode Island or other nearby states with legalized sports betting.
However, Maine sports betting legislation will have to start over again in 2021 and isn’t likely to pass until the legislative session ends in June 2021.
What killed Maine sports betting in 2020?
In the days between getting the two-thirds majority required to override the veto in the Senate and failing to get it in the House, Mills lobbied hard to sustain her decision. And Mills wasn’t the only one.
The two commercial casinos in Maine, Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway in Bangor and Oxford Casino Hotel in Oxford, have lobbied against this sports betting bill from the start.
The owners and operators of these facilities, Penn National Gaming and Churchill Downs, support sports betting in Maine.
They simply want it limited to entities that have already invested in the state, building casinos and other gaming facilities that employ residents and contribute to the tax base.
In other words, Maine casino operators are opposed to outside interests parachuting in and cannibalizing their businesses.
Of course, Sen. Luchini has long maintained requiring online sportsbooks to partner with casinos is anti-competitive. He also says it amounts to a subsidy for the casinos and allows sports betting as a way to draw people into casinos.
However, some members of the legislature are convinced the legalization would create the wild, Wild West of sports betting, with no investment in Maine required, no obligation that the mobile licenses be tied to an existing facility and no limit on licenses.
The other physical gaming interests in the state — the four Indian tribes, the racetrack and four OTB parlors — all supported the legislation.
However, casino workers said they were afraid of losing their jobs to out-of-state mobile operators. Also, the Christian Civic League of Maine stated its opposition to any and all gambling expansion. As a result, this changed enough votes to prevent the House from getting the two-thirds majority required to reverse the governor’s veto.
Maine sports betting update
Updated: January 2022
State politicians attempted to legalize sports betting again in 2021. LD1352 was introduced in and passed by the House before being sent to the Senate.
The bill passed there, but was amended to include a tethering requirement. This meant that any sportsbook operating in the state must be affiliated with an existing casino or organization.
This alarmed Senator Louis Luchini, who sponsored the initial legislation. In fact, he voted against his own bill due to this addition.
It still passed the House a second time, but there was another hurdle to clear. State law requires bills generating revenue to go to an “Appropriations Table.” This bill got there, but was never voted on nor sent to the governor.
For the second straight year, a bill that would have legalized sports betting in Maine garnered wide legislative approval, but was not signed into law. It is likely legislators will take another swing in 2022.
Maine casino update
Updated: January 2022
Sports betting has become a legislative issue of some importance in Maine. However, there is no provision in the current sports betting bill for online casino games, online slots or online poker.
There are no legal online casinos in the state and appears to be no real interest from lawmakers in legalizing online casinos.
However, there is hope for the future of online casinos in Maine.
The majority of Maine lawmakers have voted for a bill that would legalize online sports betting and allow online sportsbook operators, even without a physical presence in the state.
Maine is home to two brick-and-mortar commercial casinos. The argument could be that not allowing online casinos to launch in the state is equally as anti-competitive.
The success of the sports betting legislation and the launch of online sports betting in Maine could start the conversation about online casinos.
Maine online sports betting
Who can offer online sports betting in Maine is a significant sticking point for legislation.
In June 2019, both branches of Maine Legislature passed a bill that would allow the opening of a competitive online sports betting market. It would enable online operators to participate that don’t have a physical presence in the state.
The state’s two brick-and-mortar casino operators, Penn National Gaming and Churchill Downs, lobbied hard to get online sports betting limited to gaming businesses that are already in Maine. They claimed the legislation would allow outside interests to parachute in and cannibalize their business.
In January 2020, Gov. Mills vetoed the sports betting bill. Less than a month later, the Maine Senate voted to override Mills’ veto.
The Maine House also voted 85-57 in favor of overriding the veto but failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed.
2021 saw legislation hit similar roadblocks. A bill that would have legalized sports betting passed the House and Senate, but was not voted on at an “Appropriations Table” before legislators adjourned.
Major online sportsbook operators across the US remain hopeful that free-market Maine sports betting can become a reality in 2022.
There is no online lottery in Maine.
However, the Maine Lottery does offer a subscription play service, allowing players access to various lottery games.
With an account, players can ensure their numbers are part of each draw, receive instant electronic communication of winnings, collect special offers and stay current on Maine Lottery news.
The Maine Lottery also maintains a mobile app as a part of the RewardME player loyalty program.
Players can download the app, join RewardME, enter various giveaways and earn points through lottery play. They can redeem for prizes with their Apple or Android mobile device.
Maine fantasy sports
Maine is one of many states to have fully legalized daily fantasy sports (DFS) play.
It was the 15th state to do so, approving legislation in 2017. Major DFS sites are now active in Maine, including DraftKings and FanDuel.
The Maine law declares fantasy sports as a game of skill and exempt from state gaming laws. The Gambling Control Unit provides oversight within the Department of Public Safety.
Operators with in-state revenue of more than $100,000 (DraftKings and FanDuel) pay a $2,500 licensing fee and a 10% tax. Operators with less revenue pay nothing.
The law prohibits DFS contests based on collegiate or other amateur events.
Maine horse betting
Maine does not permit online horse betting. That means Mainers are not eligible for accounts at major online horse race betting sites like TVG.
Pari-mutuel wagering on harness racing is authorized at the state’s two racetracks, Scarborough Downs in Scarborough and Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway.
Bettors can also wager on the harness racing meets held at nine agricultural fairs throughout the state from July to October.
Simulcast wagering is also available at four off-track betting parlors across Maine.
Maine casino games
Maine is home to two commercial casinos, Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway and Oxford Casino Hotel.
Both offer a variety of slots, table games and Las Vegas-style casino amenities.
Online casinos are prohibited in Maine.
Maine residents and visitors who wish to play online casino games may visit Chumba Casino or LuckyLand Slots. These sites use a sweepstakes model, allowing them to offer casino games. No purchase is necessary.
Maine poker rooms
There is currently only one live poker room in Maine, at the Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway.
Hollywood Casino features a four-table poker room spreading Limit and No-Limit Texas Hold’em, Omaha and seven-card stud, based on player demand and availability.
Online poker in Maine is in the same category as online casinos. There currently aren’t any legal online poker options in the state.
It’s a situation that isn’t likely to change soon, considering Maine has yet to even talk about online gambling. The state’s current focus on sports betting doesn’t leave much room for online poker.
However, Maine residents and visitors who wish to play online poker can consider Global Poker, which uses a sweepstakes model, allowing it to offer poker tournaments and cash games online. No purchase is necessary.
Maine bingo, tribal gaming and charitable gaming
Maine has several bingo halls that offer bingo games, pull-tab tickets, lottery tickets and raffles.
State law permits the four federally recognized Indian tribes in the state to conduct high-stakes bingo games.
Maine’s federally recognized Indian tribes include:
- Aroostook Band of Micmac (formerly the Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians of Maine)
- Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians of Maine
- Passamaquoddy Tribe of Maine
- Penobscot Nation (previously listed as Penobscot Tribe of Maine)
Each of the four tribes has been involved in either lobbying to have slots and casino games permitted at existing gaming operations or asking the state to approve the launch of a tribal casino.
Maine lawmakers had turned the tribes down several times, including in 2019, when the state did not pass an act to authorize tribal gaming that would have allowed the four federally recognized tribes in the state to jointly open a casino that would include slots and table games.
Otherwise, the bingo halls are charitable gaming that is run by community organizations for fundraising purposes.
The bingo prizes are limited to $400. Charitable raffles can offer prize values up to $75,000 and charity card games with a maximum bet of $1 per hand are authorized.
Can I play online casino games for real money in Maine?
No. In fact, Maine lawmakers aren’t even considering legalizing online casinos right now.
What they are considering is legalizing online sports betting and creating a free market system where operators with no links to Maine gambling can take bets. Free-market Maine sports betting may become a reality in 2022, which should create a path toward legal online casino gambling in the state.
If it’s not legal, how come I can find betting sites with Google?
There is any number of shady, illegal and less-than trustworthy offshore websites that might offer online casino games to people in Maine. What they can’t provide you is the kind of consumer protections, and safety and security for your money that legal and regulated online casinos in the US can.
These sites are not legal under Maine or US law. If something goes wrong with your money there, you’ve got nowhere to turn.
What kind of online gambling is legal in Maine?
In 2022, there are no types of legal online gambling active in Maine outside of daily fantasy sports.
The majority of Maine lawmakers have mostly voted several times for bills that would legalize retail and online sports betting in Maine. However, Gov. Mills vetoed one 2020 bill, and a 2021 bill was not presented to the governor in time.
Is sports betting legal in Maine?
No, although the Maine House and Senate both passed sports betting bills multiple times. However, Gov. Mills vetoed one bill and was not presented with another.
Debates on sports betting will resume again in 2022, with lawmakers knowing a majority already back the plan.
Since sports betting will soon be legal in Maine, does that mean online casinos will be, too?
No, Maine is dealing with the issue of online sports betting separately from the issue of online casinos.
That said, the launch of a successful online sports betting market could be the beginning of a path toward Maine online gambling in the not so distant future.
What is the legal gambling age in Maine?
The minimum gambling age at Maine’s two casinos is 21 years. Pari-mutuel wagering at horse racing facilities is open to anyone 18 years or older. Furthermore, to play bingo or buy lottery tickets, you must be at least 18 years old.
Will I have to be a Maine resident to bet at online sportsbooks?
No, visitors of the state will be able to open accounts and bet on the online sportsbooks authorized by the legislation Maine lawmakers are currently considering.
The only requirement is that you will have to be inside the state’s borders to place a bet. The sportsbooks will employ geolocation software to ensure everyone placing a bet is inside Maine.
Where are Maine’s casinos?
Maine’s two casinos are Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway in Bangor and Oxford Casino Hotel in Oxford.
The Oxford Casino Hotel is in southwestern Maine, close to the New Hampshire state line. It is owned and operated by Churchill Downs.
The property has 27,000 square feet of gaming space with 970 slot machines and 28 table games. A 107-room, four-story hotel was a part of a $25 million expansion finished in November 2017.
The Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway is in the Bangor Waterfront District in the state’s third-largest city, Bangor. Penn National Gaming operates it.
The property features a harness racing track, 16 table games and 923 slot machines and a 152-room hotel.