Standing as the easternmost state in the country, Maine has evolved its stance on legalized gambling at a relatively rapid pace, albeit only in the last two decades.
After long opposing regulated gambling, Pine Tree State lawmakers started changing course in 2004 by authorizing slot games at racetracks. A year later, Hollywood Casino in Bangor (originally Hollywood Slots) became the first of its kind to open in Maine. Oxford Casino entered the fold in 2012.
The scope of Maine gambling remains narrow, although the state does hit on the basics, including pari-mutuel wagering, lottery, bingo and traditional casino games and poker. In terms of online gambling in Maine, though, things are a bit more limited. Here’s more on where you can gamble, and where you can’t, in Maine.
Can you gamble online in Maine?
Is online gambling legal in Maine? No, online gambling in the traditional sense is illegal in Maine. That means there are no online casinos, no poker sites and no online sportsbooks available in the state. Gambling, in general, is only 16 years old in the state. Lawmakers tried to pass bills to legalize online sports betting in 2020 and 2021 with the hopes of expanding gambling to include online casinos. However, each bill was vetoed by the governor or simply failed to move forward. Since then, the appetite to expand online gambling has been nonexistent. However, you can bet on horse races online and play daily fantasy sports contests from your phone.
Are online casinos legal in Maine?
No, you cannot play online casino games, including online slots, in Maine. If you really want to play casino games, your only option is at the two physical casinos in the state: Hollywood Casino in Bangor and Oxford Casino.
With that being said, Maine residents can play at sweepstakes and social online casinos for real cash prizes. Popular options include social casino sites Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Slots, and Funzpoints is a top sweepstakes site.
Can you play online poker in Maine?
No, online poker is illegal in Maine. There is one saving grace, however: Global Poker, which features sweepstakes-based online poker games that allow you to win real cash. It’s the closest players in the state will get to the real thing. Global Poker sits as the leading alternative option for online poker players, with ample cash games and tournaments.
Will Maine regulate online gambling in the future?
At this point, probably not. Lawmakers pushed for online sports betting in early 2020 and 2021, which arguably could have opened the door for additional online gambling. But Gov. Janet Mills vetoed the legislation, which ultimately petered out.
2021 saw another effort that not only didn’t make it through the finish line, but became mired in a bit of controversy over license tethering requirements.
All in all, the attention the Maine online sports betting bill received is good and jives with the rest of the US. Remember, only a handful of states have legal online casinos. This legislation is more rare and difficult to pass. In comparison, nearly half the states in the US have some kind of online sports betting legislation in the works or active.
Legal online gambling vs. offshore sites
Since online gambling is not legal in Maine, there are no legal real money casino sites for play in the state. In this case, we are referring to sites such as Golden Nugget and BetMGM casinos, which operate in states with online casino laws in place, such as New Jersey.
Any site you do find that accepts players from Maine is unregulated and based offshore. These offshore sites are not legal in or licensed by the state of Maine. This creates uncertainty surrounding the integrity of these games and sites, among other things. Adding to the issue is that they do not fall under US law. Therefore, players can never be quite sure whom they are dealing with or what kind of rules are involved.
These sites provide no consumer protections, zero trust and, once again, no relevant regulations. There is no certainty that you will receive your money if you win a bet nor any legal course of action you can take if your account suddenly vanishes.
Bottom line: If you are in Maine, it is safer to play at the sweepstakes casino sites and poker sites mentioned above.
Who oversees gambling in Maine?
Two government agencies are in charge of gambling oversight in Maine. The Maine State Lottery regulates lottery draws, while all other forms of gambling fall under the Maine Gambling Control Board.
What is the legal gambling age in Maine?
You must be at least 21. The state prohibits gambling in casinos by anyone under 21 years of age. As for pari-mutuel betting, bingo, DFS, and the state lottery, the legal age to participate is 18.
Responsible gambling resources
There are several resources available at the Maine Council on Problem Gambling, should you know anyone suffering from gambling addiction. The site includes a Facebook group, Twitter account and dedicated email address. Additionally, you can find information on a self-exclusion list, responsible gambling tips and treatment providers.
There is also the Maine Division of Disease Prevention, which provides a 24/7 helpline, list of warning signs, and other valuable resources for those suffering from gambling addiction. You can reach the helpline by dialing 2-1-1 in Maine.
Types of legal gambling in Maine
Most of the legal gambling in Maine is tethered to two brick-and-mortar casino properties. Additionally, there is a state lottery as well as daily fantasy sports. Unfortunately, the Maine State Lottery does not offer online games, which coincides with the state’s overall stance against online gambling.
Much of this negativity stems from confusion as to whether the Wire Act prohibits online gambling or if it pertains only to sports betting. As the lottery has stated on its site, though, state lotteries are prepared to expand their games to the internet in accordance with federal law and an exception that allows for mobile bets within a state that has no authorized internet gambling.
Maine is also home to a handful of bingo halls and racetracks that support horse racing and off-track betting.
Are there casinos in Maine?
Yes. Casinos in Maine have been operational since 2005, when Hollywood Casino opened in Bangor. Seven years later, Oxford Casino joined the mix.
While they remain the only two casinos in Maine, Hollywood and Oxford have expanded their offerings to include slot machines and table games — the typical essentials of any casino.
Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway Bangor
- Address: 500 Main St., Bangor, ME
- Phone: 877-779-7771
Owned by Penn National Gaming, Hollywood Casino’s notable attractions include a 152-room hotel and the restaurants Epic Buffet and Take 2. The casino is also one mile from the Bangor Municipal Golf Course and the house of famed author Stephen King. It is also home to the state’s only live poker room, a four-table room with Omaha and No-Limit Texas Hold’em.
Oxford Casino Hotel
- Address: 777 Casino Way, Oxford, ME
- Phone: 207-539-6700
This small casino features a 24/7 gambling space complete with table games and slot machines. Owned and operated by Churchill Downs, the casino features penny slots as well as a high limit slots area.
Maine tribal casino efforts
The four federally recognized tribes in Maine are the Wabanaki, Maliseet, Micmac and Passamaquoddy.
In June 2021, Mills vetoed a bill that would have allowed Native American tribes in Maine to open casinos. Although the bill received bipartisan support, Mills said that opening the doors to more casinos would jeopardize the $17 million already brought in by the state’s two casinos annually. Naturally, the tribes weren’t happy that their request was shot down. After all, it was something they had been wanting for a long time.
But Maine is a special case. In 1980, the Maine Land Claims Settlement Act settled land claims with the tribes but made them exempt from federal laws. That’s why the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 — which declares that US tribes wouldn’t have to seek approval to pursue opening and operating a gambling facility — doesn’t seem to apply, and why Maine’s tribes can’t pursue tribal casino gambling themselves.
The tribes have been trying to get this amended for years and argue they shouldn’t have to seek approval. Mills has made it a point to support the tribes on previous requests — just not when it comes to gambling. But she did express support that this could be revisited in the next session, stating:
“I believe that Maine’s federally recognized tribes have been unfairly excluded from the opportunity to operate their own gaming facility — a problem that I believe can and should be rectified.”
Is horse betting legal in Maine?
Betting on horses online stands as a popular option for Maine residents. In fact, it was the first and only legal Maine gambling option available until the 1970s. While other gambling platforms remain limited, online horse betting offers several options for state residents, including the TVG horse racing app and TwinSpires.
In addition to the brick-and-mortar casinos, Maine boasts two racetracks and six off-track betting locations.
History of gambling in Maine
Legal gambling in Maine remains fairly young. That is, with the exception of pari-mutuel betting, which received the green light in 1935, and the Maine State Lottery, which became legal in 1973.
It wasn’t until 2004 that the first legal slot machines cropped up in the Pine Tree State. After getting in on the action shortly thereafter, Hollywood Casino (then Hollywood Slots) relocated in 2008, and four years later, after adding table games, it became Maine’s first official and full-fledged casino. That same year, Oxford Casino opened its doors and remains Maine’s most recent — and only other — brick-and-mortar casino.
In 2017, Maine became the 15th state to legalize paid-entry daily fantasy sports, opening the door for DFS powerhouses DraftKings DFS and FanDuel DFS to capture a new market. The bill declares DFS a game of skill and exempt from state gambling laws, and the industry is overseen by the Gambling Control Unit. In addition, Maine is home to a handful of bingo halls and racetracks that support horse racing and off-track wagering.
Legislators took a run at legalizing sports betting, and measures nearly passed in early 2020 and in 2021. Mills, however, vetoed both bills because she was “unconvinced” that residents desired such expansion. She urged lawmakers to keep an eye on neighboring states and their approach to regulated wagering, which seemingly keeps hope alive for further legislation down the road.
In summary, Maine online gambling is simply unavailable unless you have a fantasy sports contest you want to join, a horse race you want to bet on, or a sweepstakes slot game you want to play. In-state casino gambling only came into existence in the 2000s, so the likelihood of taking the leap into legal Maine online casinos and poker sites is low.