In 2004, voters approved slot machines for two racetrack facilities. Hollywood Slots in Bangor, Maine, opened in 2005. In 2010, voters approved a casino for Oxford County, as well. In 2012, the Oxford Casino opened. But before that, the Lottery was the first legal gambling option. On June 27, 1974, first lottery draw was held in the Pine Tree State.
In 2014, a legislative bill provided for two tribal casinos on native land. This is facing opposition from the business interests behind the existing casinos. The Maine legislature rejected a proposed third casino in York county, southern Maine.
Current Legal Types Of Gambling
Hotel at Hollywood, Bangor
Oxford Casino, Maine
Casinos: There are 2 casino / hotels with slots and table games in Maine. The first was Hollywood Bangor Casino, Hotel and Raceway in 2003. Owned by Penn National Gaming, it is the smallest casino in New England. The Oxford Casinoopened in Oxford, ME in 2012. Churchill Downs, LTD owns this casino. In addition, Oxford recently added its hotel a year ago.
Live Poker: Social poker games are legal if not organized or profit from gambling. As long as nobody is taking rake or making a profit from the games, then there should not be any problem. The only casino poker room is at Hollywood Bangor.
Sports Betting: Maine legislators are pushing for legal Sports Betting. A bill that now only needs the Governor’s approval will allow for both retail sports books inside the state’s gaming facilities as well as through state-wide online sports wagering apps provided by online sports betting providers. Consequently, the system could be up and working in time for the 2019-20 NFL season.
Lottery Betting: The usual lottery type games and the inter-state games are offered.
Bingo Betting: Yes, charity gambling is regulated. Maine uses the word ‘Beano’ to cover a lot of games in this area (a mix of Bingo and Keno?). You can also find high stakes bingo games on tribal lands in special ‘bingo casinos’.
Today, part 2, as we drive to the furthest northeast casino withing the US borders. Today, we REPORT OUR visit to Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway in Bangor, ME.
Hollywood Casino, Bangor, Maine
Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway – Some Background
It was the first licensed slots facility in the state, and became the first casino to be licensed in the state of Maine when it added table games to its facilities in 2012. However, it was the third New England casino to offer Vegas style slots in 2005, after Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun in CT. Twin River, at the old Lincoln Greyhound Park in RI, did not introduce Vegas style slots, or class III, until 2007.
Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway, Bangor Maine
This facility has everything – it’s just that it’s a little bit of everything. It is the smallest casino in New England inches behind the other Maine casino in Oxford, Maine. It does draw from patrons from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Canada & of course Maine. This was our 5th trip to the Bangor casino. Only two hours away from Oxford Hotel Casino
We first drove to our hotel, the Bangor Inn. Unfortunately, we were unable to stay at the Hollywood Hotel. Our suggestion is do not stay at Bangor Inn, unless you want to step back to the 1950s in terms of comfort, amenities, even number of electrical outlets (unless you bring a couple of extension cords). Certainly a step back, but with inflated prices due to the concert downtown. (Over $150 dollars for something that represents an old Super 8 motel.)
After that, it was time once again for beer, and Hops 99 was the perfect stop.
Hops House 99 is a brewpub specializing in Maine craft breweries. With a good array of Maine beers and others from around the world, it follows its name by offering 99 beers. 22 beers on rotating taps, and the rest in cans & bottles. On this afternoon, they had some specials to “kick the Keg.” So we had a couple of Jamaican Stouts at $3.99 each.
Our meals were good. Their menu has enough choice to make anyone happy. I had a pulled pork sandwich with plenty of pork and Bert had the BALT (Bacon, Avocado, Lettuce and Tomato). Both were delicious. Service was timely and friendly – a definite visit every time we’re in Bangor. Hops 99 also has a bustling Trivia Contest on Thursday nights and entertainment on the weekend.
The other two dining options are the Epic Buffet (good, but not “epic”) and Take 2 Snack Bar which offers up a variety of you classic favorites including wings, burgers, sandwiches, salads & fries. It is open for breakfast daily at 6am. with a complete breakfast menu. During the week, it is the only breakfast option and is surprisingly expensive. Noteworthy is the fact that they don’t accept casino dining credit, but will accept Marquee Rewards Points. I would suggest you go out for breakfast somewhere outside the the property.
A brief word about Hollywood Bangor’s rewards club. It includes levels in the Marquee Rewards Program. Penn National has bought some Las Vegas properties recently like M Resort & the famous Tropicana to go along with its country-wide portfolio of casinos & racinos. Included in that portfolio is Plainridge Park in Massachusetts which uses the same Marquee rewards. Points can be used at all Marquee Rewards properties, making a visit to Bangor, ME. more profitable.
Walking the Red Carpet to the Hollywood Casino
This isn’t a 24/7 facility. The property is open daily 8am – 2am. It houses over 900 Vegas-style slots in 30,000 square feet of gaming space. Slots include many old & new favorites, but many times only one or two of them. Denominations include penny slots up to $10 in the High Limit area (which is larger than Oxford.) Hollywood includes a broad variation of slots catering to reel & video slots players, with many older slots mixed with the latest. The number of $1 machines seem to equal the penny machines. The number of machines oddly seems skewed toward $1 denominations.
Video Poker seems to be it’s low point. Mostly single line VP with terrible pay tables such as 7/5 JOB, 7/5 DDB. and 6/5 Bonus. There are only two multi line games that I could find – a”Super Times Pay Spin Poker” and one “Ultimate X.” Both have different denominations available starting at nickels.
16 gaming tables round out the casino’s main floor. Hollywood Casino currently offers Craps, Blackjack, Spanish 21, Roulette, High Card Flush, Three Card Poker and Texas Hold’em Bonus®. Most low limits start at $5. However, on this Sunday Afternoon, the limits were higher – BJ could not be found under $10 and most table games in at the $15 and above. The one huge craps table had no Fire Bet, All Tall, All Small, etc. Your basic craps with 3,4,5 odds.
There is a poker room with 4 poker tables with live action Texas Hold ‘Em games, 7-stud, and Omaha. The same room has a small race book. Bangor Raceway is adjacent to the property and features a 1/2 mile racetrack and grandstand seating for up to 3,500. We didn’t have time to visit the harness racing track – maybe next time.
Hollywood Hotel Lobby, Bangor Maine
HOTEL – The Gem of the Property
The hotel has 152 rooms, including four suites, and with over 5,000 square feet of meeting and pre-function space. But it’s hospitality that shines here. A friendly greeting, ease with check-in and in our room withing ten minutes both times we stayed over is what you can expect. The rooms are nothing special, if you compare them to Las Vegas. But they are very homey, very clean well-designed, comfortable and have great amenities. A comped room here is a “no-brainer.” But pay to stay and you won’t be sorry. On this particular weekend the comped rooms were blacked out due to the Keith Urban Concert that Sunday night.
Darling Waterfront Pavillion
Our final part of this NETG casino trip was an outdoor concert at the Darling Event Center, which was the closets thing to Woodstock I ever experienced. This place is huge, and it was packed with many of Keith Urban’s fans. A beautiful, balmy night was perfect for Kelsea Ballerini’s opening, and Keith Urban’s 2 hour performance. This venue is fantastic for summer outdoor concerts. With so many people, the audience was great – just be prepared to stand a lot. We upgraded to seats, and with the large video screens capturing the excitement on stage, nothing was missed. This is a 15 minute walk from Hollywood Hotel Casino. We parked for free in the parking garage (parking around concert area can be expensive), played, ate and drank at Hollywood, and walked to the concert. We highly recommend a summer visit with a concert at Darling Event Center in mind.
I like Hollywood Bangor. In the early part of the week, as in Oxford, or even in CT’s mega resorts, it’s slow and quiet. The staff all over the property prove hospitality is important from the hotel staff to the dealers. Enjoy Maine in the summer. And enjoy Maine’s casinos while you’re in the vicinity.
A trip to visit the two Maine casinos is usually accompanied by good food, great beer and a lot of driving. Oh yes…..there was gambling, too. Day 1 was the Oxford Casino & Hotel
We first drove to Oxford Hotel & Casino in Oxford, Maine. The Oxford Casino, owned and operated by Churchill Downs Inc., has 848 slot machines and 22 table games. and opened on June 5, 2012. It has recently gone through the addition of a connecting Hotel, and a new pub dining experience, with rotating beer taps and great craft beer from the Maine. After a five hour drive, this was our first stop. But first, check-in….
Basic Room at Hotel Oxford
Checking was smooth and quick with friendly service. Small lobby desk, but seems to serve them well. Our room was beautiful, with electrical plugs everywhere. Within 5 minutes from getting to our room, we received a call from the front desk asking if everything was as expected, wishing us a great stay – nice touch! Amenities include refrigerator, safe, and Keureg coffee maker in a spacious enough room. The large shower had shampoo & body soap in containers attached to the wall. It was a delightful place to stay.
The Ox Pub
Good food and great beer. The new Ox Pub is a terrific addition. Before the expansion, this little casino just stood alone out in the Maine woods of Oxford, with two food options. But the Hotel, expanded parking, and this Ox Pub seems to round the casino experience. Our beer selections were the Simplicity Orange Maple Wheat from Warren, ME and ironically the Black Hog Granola Brown Ale from Oxford, (wait for it) CT! We both ordered, what else, but the Maine Lobster role with over a pound of lobster, Cole slaw and fries -highly recommended.Great service. They also are known for their Bourbon selection as well as the Maine craft brews.
Now we were ready to survey the casino area, which is very nicely hid from the dining options.
The Expanded Casino Area
It was a Saturday night – should I say more? The casino wasn’t that big in the first place, and although it’s been expanded, it was packed with people. As Bert said, “When you’re the only game in town for miles and miles around, it’s going to be a weekend draw.” The only downside to this slot laden casino on a busy night is that there are no empty machines. Even the video poker, which would total about 30 single line Game Makers were full – even with the terrible pay tables offered.
Saturday’s promotion also contributed to the number of people there. The Super 6 was every hour from 3-8PM (tailored to a mostly over 50 clientele) with both of us winning at least $2 each hour in the drawing of 6 numbers out of 20. East guest picked their own numbers. After the promo was done, the crowd thinned, and there were more opportunities to play.
With no night club, bowling alley, DJ, or entertainment venue (not even a little lounge act) this is not the place that caters to a younger crowd. The race to get millennials inside is really lost ob the owner Churchill Downs, Inc. But, it is not being missed either.
Inside Oxford Casino, Oxford Maine
Slots – many older slots mixed in with some of the latest. Not a lot of tall new tall cabinet machines, but would be out of place here.
Video Poker – 7/5 JOB, 8/5 DDB at $1 level; – should I say more?
Craps – $15 minimum on a Saturday night. Two tables.
Blackjack – 3/2 pays, dealer hits on soft 17, 6 deck shoes. Some with Progressive Blazing 7’s side bet. $15 minimum on weekends, most $25. Morning had a special $3 BJ table!
Other table games included were Roulette, Ultimate Texas Holdem, 3 Card Poker, Spanish 21, Mississippi Stud Poker, and Mini-Baccarat (which didn’t seem very popular.)
There is a high limit room, big enough for a craps table, blackjack table and one more not recognized.
Video Poker Player’s Club
$1 Coin-In = 1 Point
Free Play or Comps: 500 Points = $1 (0.20%)
I would assume slots would earn more points for $1 in, but no way of getting this info at this time
The breakfast buffet in the Oxford Grille, 2 of the three dining options, is very good. Brunch at the Ritz it’s not, but everything was delicious and we would thoroughly recommend this if staying at the hotel. The set-up is well done with a number of the usual breakfast stations, an omelet station, and a waffle station. At $12, this is a bargain.
The expansion is outstanding, the hotel we loved, and the service is great, even though the next closest casino is 120 miles away! Further expansion of the casino should be the next step for Churchill Downs, Inc. because this place is a winner in their portfolio.
Bert’s conclusion was “Service is very friendly, but they know they’re not the star of the show. The staff at Oxford is here to serve the guest.”
Couldn’t say it better myself!
Next, it was on to Bangor with a review of the Hollywood Hotel, Casino & Raceway. see ya next post.