Maine’s gambling industry is fairly young. The state first legalized slot machines in 2004 and then Hollywood Slots opened in 2005. It wasn’t until 2008 that Hollywood Slots moved into its new facility and became Maine’s first actual casino venue. In 2012, Hollywood Casino added table games and became the state’s first full-fledged commercial casino.
The Oxford Casino opened in 2012 to become Maine’s second and only other gambling establishment. Although that puts the total number of casinos in Maine at just two, it shows the state is in an expansion mode. Maine also permits a limited number of online betting sites in the horse racing and fantasy sports industries.
Where to Bet Online Legally
Horse and Greyhound Betting:
Games of Skill:
As far as online poker and casinos go, there’s not much to report on that front. The state has no immediate plans to expand its online gaming options beyond what is already legal. It’s worth noting that the entire state is home to just 1.3 million people so there’s not a lot of demand to set up a whole new regulatory agency just for online betting.
Anything is possible of course, but it looks like our best chances lie with something happening at the national level. On a more positive note, Maine has been expanding its gambling industry rapidly in recent years. This may indicate state lawmakers are open to other forms of betting as well.
Legal Betting Options
It doesn’t look like Maine will be opening its doors to internet poker or casinos in the near future. In the meantime, the state does have a few legal betting options already up and running. The sites listed below are headquartered in the USA and are 100% legal in Maine.
Horse Racing Sites
Online parimutuel horse wagering is exempt from federal anti-gambling legislation. One of the nice things about betting at local racing sites is they have agreements with racetracks across the country. Your wagers are pooled with the wagers placed at each track so it’s just like placing your bet in person. When you win, you are paid at full track odds.
Fantasy Sports Sites
Like horse racing, fantasy sports are also exempt from federal gaming laws. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 declared real money fantasy leagues contests of skill. Now we have a number of daily fantasy leagues that host hundreds of contests every day with prizes routinely topping a million dollars.
Maine did not pass DFS regulation until 2017, but that did not stop the major DFS sites from operating throughout the state with no negative repercussions. Legislators finally got around to drafting a regulatory bill in 2017 and it became law on August 2nd of that year.
DFS laws in Maine are not overly burdensome: fantasy operators must apply for a license and pay a fee of $2500 if their revenue for the previous year was $100,000 or greater. Operators with revenues less than that do not have to pay a licensing fee at all. Licenses must be renewed every twelve months with the same fee structure.
As far as regulations go, Maine opted to pass legislation similar to what many other states passed around the time. Employees of DFS sites are not allowed to participate at all, and athletes and officials are prohibited from participating in contests that involve their respective sports. Fantasy sites must keep player funds separate from operating funds and the minimum age to play in Maine is 18.
It is legal in most states to wager money on contests that are based entirely on skill. A couple of websites in this niche have come and gone, but the one that seems to withstand the test of time is Game Show Network’s WorldWinner.com. You can go there to play games like Scrabble and Spades against other people for real money.
The official Maine Lottery does not sell tickets online but it does offer a subscription service that you can manage online if you live in the state. You can purchase subscriptions online for 13 weeks, 26 weeks or 53 weeks. Each subscription will automatically enter you in two drawings per week for the duration of the subscription.
The games offered include Powerball, Mega Millions, Mega Millions Megaplier, Hot Lotto Sizzler and Lucky for Life. Prices for subscriptions range from $26 to $208 depending on the game and length of subscription.
- Visit at: club.mainelottery.com
Maine does not authorize the sale of individual tickets or subscriptions through any website other than the official state website. There are dozens of online lotto websites that promise to buy tickets on your behalf even if you live out of state, but those sites operate contrary to state and federal laws. There are no guarantees whatsoever that you’ll be paid if you win a big jackpot at some unregulated lotto website hosted overseas. Play it safe and stick with the official subscription service.
Gambling Laws of Maine
The Maine Gambling Control Board was established in 2004 in order to oversee the first slot machine facilities introduced to the state. Now, it serves as a regulatory body over the state’s two land-based casinos and any future casinos.
Maine’s gaming laws inflict significant penalties on those who organize or “advance” gambling but appear to have no measures in place to punish those who merely participate as players. The state defines gambling with the following text:
“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.”
The state considers it a Class D crime if a person profits from an unlawful gambling activity or plays a slot machine under the age of 21. Note here that “profiting” does not mean acting as a player; it means earning money by hosting an unauthorized gaming operation. The punishment for a Class D crime is up to 364 days in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
Additionally, one can be charged with a Class B crime if he or she hosts an unlawful gaming activity that accepts more than 5 bets totaling more than $500 in a 24 hour period or receives more than $1,000 in a 24-hour period for hosting an unlicensed lottery, mutuel or other gambling scheme. The punishment for this one is much stiffer at up to 10 years imprisonment and up to $20,000 in fines.
In summary, it is relatively safe to be a gambler in Maine even if you participate in unlawful games. It’s not a good idea of course, but the law appears to target operators instead. The punishments for operating unlawful gambling games are quite harsh.
Sports Betting in Maine
Maine does not permit real-world or online sports betting at this time and there are no immediate plans to change that. Like other states, Maine is beholden to federal laws that restrict states from authorizing or regulating sports betting.
There has been renewed interest at the national level to end the federal ban and allow states to regulate sports betting as they see fit. If the federal ban is repealed or stricken down, Maine would regain the option to legalize sports betting if the legislature chooses to do so. However, this does not appear likely in the short term because while other states have proactively drafted bills in case the federal ban does come to an end, Maine has made no such moves.
Offshore online sportsbooks do accept customers from Maine, but readers should keep in mind that those sites are completely unregulated and operate solely on trust. There is no way to verify that those sites are fair, that they take proper precautions to protect your data or that they are properly funded. It does not appear that it is illegal to participate in unauthorized online betting in Maine – the risks appear to be entirely financial in nature.
A better alternative to illegal sports betting in Maine is to consider daily fantasy sports or thoroughbred horse racing betting. Both are legal forms of online betting in Maine and are operated by sites headquartered here in the USA.