Gaming Laws in Maine
Tribal gaming laws passed on the federal level in 1988, allowing Native American tribes around the country to open up casinos on tribal grounds. Because Maine did not have any Class III gambling across the state, tribes in Maine were only allowed to offer Class II gaming. This prompted Native American tribes to open high stakes bingo rooms on their land as table games and slot machines were illegal.
It wasn't until 2010 that the Maine Casino in Oxford County law was passed to approve casino gaming in the state. The law passed by the slimmest of margins, receiving a majority vote with 50.42% of the vote in Maine. This paved the way for the Oxford Casino and Hollywood Casino to be built, and also allowed for slot machines to be added to the state's two horse tracks.
Gambling is defined in Maine as when a person “stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence”. Unlawful gambling is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison. While this seemingly is meant to be geared towards bookmakers, by the letter of the law partaking in these wagers is also illegal.
Sports Betting in Maine
While it is somewhat unclear in the wording of Maine's gaming laws whether or not simply placing a bet is considered “unlawful gambling”, bookmaking certainly is. Unlawful gambling includes any person that “intentionally or knowingly advances or profits from unlawful gambling activity.” As a result, bookmakers in Maine face a penalty of up to three years in prison for profiting on gambling.
Sports bettors looking to stay away from the state's crackdown on bookmakers may instead decide to place their bets at offshore sportsbooks. Because offshore sports betting sites are owned and operated in other countries, they do not fall under the jurisdiction of the United States or Maine. This allows offshore sportsbooks to operate legally and many offer their services to American citizens.
The Maine Statutes make no specific mention about online gambling or its legality. To date, no one in the state of Maine has been arrested or charged for betting on sports online. The history of law enforcement in Maine suggests that the state uses its laws to go after bookmakers and not bettors. Sports betting does fall under Maine's definition of gambling, but to date this law hasn't been used to punish players.
Poker and Casino in Maine
Residents of Maine have two casino options; the Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway and the Oxford Casino. These two casinos both offer slot machines and table games. The Hollywood Casino has a poker room, but it is a limited one with only four tables. The Scarborough Downs harness track also has slot machines.
A “social gambling” clause included in Maine's state laws make it legal for poker players to play in house games so long as the house is not making money. As long as all of the players involved in the game are playing on equal footing, this type of poker game is legal in the state of Maine.
For serious poker players, one small poker room and local house games may not be enough. These players will likely have to go online to play at an offshore poker room.
There are currently no laws in place for or against online poker. Maine has been rumored to be a potential future partner for expansion of online poker in the United States from a state like New Jersey, but these discussions still don't have any legal backing. For now, poker players are left to play at their own risk.
Other Gaming Options in Maine
Maine features two harness race tracks in the Hollywood Casino and Raceway and Scarborough Downs. Both of these tracks offer live harness racing and horse players can also bet on simulcast racing from around the country.
As a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association, Maine offers multi-state games such as Mega Millions, Powerball and Hot Lotto in addition to its Tri-State games and scratch-off ticket games. Along with Vermont and New Hampshire, the Tri-State Lotto includes Megabucks Plus, a Pick 3 and a Pick 4. Maine was set to add a Keno game to its lottery in May of 2015 before lawmakers stepped in to block it.