Gambling Laws in the State of Maine are Reviewed

Last updated: April 26, 2020 It was a roller coaster of emotions for online gaming in Maine this year. Lawmakers discussed online poker, but proposed no bill. There was an online sports betting bill though. LD 533, a wide-ranging bill that would legalize sports betting in the state, passed through the house and the senate voted 19-15 vote to approve it on June 18, 2019. 

Maine Gov. Janet Mills had 10 days to vote on the bill, but decided to take no action. The bill was pushed to the next session and Mills vetoed the bill on Jan. 10, 2020. She told the Bangor Daily News that she was unsure that Mainers wanted to expand online gaming. 

Despite the veto, there was still hope. The senate overrode the veto with 20-10 vote on February 6 and the bill went back to the house. While LD 533 passed the house easily the year before, it couldn’t muster the 2/3rds majority to override the governor’s veto. The veto vote failed on Feb. 11, 2020 with 85 representatives voting in favor and 57 voting against. 

The bill is now dead…for now. Sports betting legislation will have to wait until next year and experts are expecting a watered-down version of the bill that will tie online betting apps to land-based casinos. LD 533 faced a lot of opposition from the state’s casinos.

Online Poker in Maine

Photo by Mercedes Mehling on Unsplash

Gambling Laws and Online Poker in Maine

A good predictor for states allowing online poker is looking at their current laws. Maine is in the middle of the pack when it comes to gambling. There are some brick-and-mortar casinos though and the state tends to leave back and forth on the political spectrum. The state’s low population and rural areas give it a strong independent culture too.  Most of their gambling laws are broad and don’t lean one way when it comes to online poker. 

Title 17-A, Chapter 39 Section 952 in the Maine statute defines “gambling” as:

“A person engages in gambling if he 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, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.”

This is a standard definition of “gambling.” It’s similar to other state laws in the USA, and doesn’t clarify what forms are legal and which aren’t. Their definition talks about a “contest of chance” and many could make a strong case that poker is a game of “skill” and not “chance”. Albeit, there are some unlawful gambling statutes. Click here for a full guide on unlawful gambling statutes in the state of Maine.

What is Maine’s Current Stance on Poker?

There are now laws in Maine that specifically allows or outlaws online poker. Title 17-A, Chapter 39 Section 952 does mention “gambling devices.” That could constitute a computer:

“Any device, machine, paraphernalia or equipment that is used or usable in the playing phases of any gambling activity, whether that activity consists of gambling between persons or gambling by a person involving the playing of a machine. However, lottery tickets and other items used in the playing phases of lottery schemes are not gambling devices within this definition.”

There isn’t a rush to legalize online poker either. Maine hasn’t been a frontrunner like Nevada, New Jersey or Delaware. The recent sports betting bill is a bigger priority and even that was vetoed by the governor. Maine also has a small population, so for online poker to succeed in the state it’d have to join interstate compacts.

You can play charitable poker in the state though. Organizations can have social or charitable poker tournaments as long as they have a license. The license costs $250 for 100 players or less. There are licenses for up to 300 layers though. The maximum buy-in is $100 and there are no re-buys. By law, at least 75% of the entry fees are paid back to winners. 

So there’s some love for poker in Maine. We’ll see if that transfers online.

Can I Play Poker on PokerStars in Maine?

Not yet. You haven’t been able to play on PokerStars in Maine since the fateful events of Black Friday on 2011. Back then, the Department of Justice seized the domains of multiple poker sites, including PokerStars. It was years before the site was able to come back to the US. New Jersey was the first state to allow PokerStars back in and Pennsylvania followed in late 2019. For PokerStars to make it back to Maine, the state would have to regulate poker and grant it a state license.

For now though, there are several sites that accept poker players from all 50 states, including Maine. These sites have rakeback, guaranteed tournament prize pools and lots of the stuff you loved about PokerStars. Bovada and Ignition Poker are some of our top-reviewed sites. Check out reviews for more:

Bovada.lv

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Ignition

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BetOnline

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SportsBetting.ag

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America's Cardroom

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Black Chip Poker

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Intertops

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Legal Gambling in Maine

Oxford Casino Maine

People have been gambling for centuries in Maine. Casinos dotted the trolley lines in Portland and Brunswick back in the 1800s. Now there are two casinos in the state: The Oxford Casino and the Hollywood Casino. They generated the state about $144 million in 2018. These casinos offer standard table games like craps, blackjack and roulette, but there are other kinds of gambling in the state.

Scarborough Downs on the southern coast has live harness racing. It’s considered the fastest half-mile track in New England. There’s pari-mutuel betting on live races across the country. Mainers can also go to the Bangor Raceway if they want to bet on horses. The state also offers off-track betting.  

There’s also bingo. Bingo players can play at the Penobscot High Stakes Bingo in Old Town. It’s a massive 2,000-seat bing hall with prizes up to $250,000. Aside from bingo games you can play pull tabs and coin-boards.

There’s also the Maine State Lottery. Representative Arthur Genest proposed a state lottery in 1973. Maine citizens voted and approved the bill. The first lottery took place on June 27, 1974 and Governor Curtis drw the first number. Profits from the Maine State Lottery go to the State’s General Fund. The fund supports many programs and services for the citizens in the State of Maine.

Specific State-by-State Laws
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