When discussing gambling in New England, usually it refers to Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. But a lot more is going on up here. Let’s take a look at Gambling in Maine – the Pine Tree State.

Gambling in Maine – Timeline

Gambling in Maine

The Maine Lottery is run by the government of Maine. The idea of starting a lottery operation in Maine was first championed by Rep. Arthur Genest of Waterville. In 1973, Genest sponsored a bill to introduce a lottery in Maine. When the public was asked to vote in 1973, the answer was a resounding “yes.” So, the Lottery began operations in 1974 after being approved through a voter referendum.

Governor Kenneth M. Curtis drew the first lottery numbers on June 27, 1974. The numbers were printed on large rubber balls and drawn from a gumball machine. Ivan Lazure of Lewiston was the first winner, with a $20 prize. In 2009, the smaller jackpot game Hot Lotto was Maine’s first continuing draw game to have its winning numbers drawn via random number generator (RNG) instead of using traditional lottery balls.

Maine began sales of Mega Millions on May 9, 2010, after most lotteries began offering both games on January 31, 2010. An agreement was reached on October 13, 2009, for Mega Millions and Powerball to be available through any US lottery.

DID YOU KNOW? – The Boston Red Sox instant ticket now features the image of David Ortiz. Maine is the first lottery in the nation with the image of a current sports athlete on an instant ticket

Maine Casinos

Maine has two casinos. Oxford Hotel and Casino in Oxford and the Hollywood Casino in Bangor. The Summary by the Numbers is available below.

Oxford Casino & Hotel, Oxford, ME

It would be hard to imagine a small town in southwestern Maine’s wooded wilderness to have a thriving casino.

The Oxford Casino was originally developed and opened by Maine-based Black Bear Entertainment in 201. its presence in the region originally brought a mix of concerns, but was sold less than a year after opening to Churchill Downs LLC out of Kentucky with many of those concerns fading away.

Churchill Downs then looked at opportunities for expansion later. Oxford Hotel and Casino finished renovations and expansion just before the pandemic. A 93,907-square-foot addition to the existing gaming facility features a new hotel with more than 100 guest rooms, including six high-end suites and additional dining options, The expansion also added a gaming floor area and meeting spaces.

The casino’s growth over the past 10 years has also brought in new revenue for the state and region. Between table games and slots, the Oxford Casino has paid out more than $319 million in taxes to the state over the past decade. Forty-six percent of the casino’s net slot machine revenue and 16 percent of the casino’s net table game revenue are divided out through a cascade to various municipalities, organizations, and funds.

Oxford Town Manager Adam Garland says the money has not only helped the community’s bottom line, it’s also driven new business since the casino first opened, even in surrounding towns. “Economically, it’s been a huge growth,” Poland Spring Resort Owner Cyndi Robbins said. “There’s so many more businesses in Poland now than there were 10 years ago.”

“The Hampton Inn across the road, that exists because of the casino frankly,” Garland said. “We’ve got a couple other restaurants in town, the big box restaurants like Applebee’s and other smaller ones like Daddy O’s and all of those businesses I believe have seen growth because of the casino being in town.”

Oxford Town Manager Adam Garland 
Gambling in Maine
New Hampton Inn is across the street from Oxford Casino.

Related Post – Oxford Is Maine’s Casino Destination

Hollywood Hotel, Casino & Raceway, Bangor, ME,

Hollywood Hotel, Casino & Raceway was opened by Gaming and Leisure Properties in 2005.

It is operated by Penn Entertainment and 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.

The hotel has always been my favorite part of the property. With all the usual amenities expected in hotel rooms today, it has a very comfortable ambiance away from the casino. In addition, Hops House 99 is a good restaurant next to the casino with a diverse collection of draft and bottled beers.

Hollywood Bangor has taken a different route to the future. While already having a charming hotel, the smallest casino in New England has cut the number of table game offerings, discontinued craps, removed a few more slots, and discontinued two dining options, including its buffet.

For more images of Hollywood Banger, click HERE

Maine is home to two racetrack facilities, the Bangor Raceway and Scarborough Downs, both harness racing.

Maine Casinos “By The Numbers”

Gambling in Maine

Sports Betting

Yes, sports betting is legal in Maine, but it’s unavailable right now, and no sports betting sites are active yet. 

With the newly signed legislation, in-person betting will be allowed at casinos and off-track betting facilities (“tethering”). Tethered facilities were a significant point of contention in getting sports wagering legalized, which would tie mobile sportsbooks to in-state venues such as Maine’s two commercial casinos. Initially, it hadn’t.

Online sports betting is expected to launch in Maine in November 2023, according to Maine Gambling Control Unit (MGCU) executive director Milton Champion. So far, Caesars Sportsbook is the only operator that has applied for a license in Maine.

Gambling in Maine

Meanwhile, internet-based wagering sits with the state’s four federally recognized Native American tribes in Maine – the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation. They will each partner with an existing online sports betting company, and more than one tribe can partner with the same sportsbook.

However, members of Sports Betting Alliance, DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Fanatics. have already stated they will not be applying for online Maine sports betting licenses.

Related Post – Maine Mobile Sports Betting in Tribal Hands?

In 2022, revisions to the law state that commercial racetrackscasinos and OTBs are eligible to offer sports betting. But despite all of the recent developments, it’s unlikely that mobile or retail betting will go live in Maine for quite some time. Representatives of the Maine Gambling Control Unit recently stressed that this is only the beginning of a rather lengthy process.

High Stakes BingoGambling in Maine

Penobscot High Stakes Bingo was located in Old Town, Maine, and was extremely popular until it closed in 2015. In 1973, Penobscot High Stakes Bingo was one of the first commercial gambling operations on a reservation in the United States. The bingo floor was 27,000 square feet in size and had one restaurant.

Gambling in Maine the Pine Tree State
Penobscot High Stakes Bingo Hall

Beginning in 2008, the Penobscot Indian Nation tried to pass a bill to enhance its existing gaming operation—a 30-year-old traditional bingo enterprise that uses a bingo caller and bingo cards. And for five straight years, the legislature turned down. Then, revenues plunged when Hollywood Slots casino in Bangor opened, 10 miles south of the tribe’s Indian Island home. To compete, the tribe wanted to upgrade its old-fashioned bingo operation. Still, the legislature said that the Nation’s proposed Class II bingo machines were Class III slot machines. This claim was refuted by two of the most reputable companies in the country that manufacture, test, and certify gaming machines.

Related Post – Maine Officials Block Penobscot Bingo Upgrade—Again

The facility was 27,000 square feet and was the 5th largest bingo hall in the US. It seated up to 1,800 bingo players and unfortunately had to close in 2015. High Stakes Bingo is now only available and hosted by the Passamaquoddy Tribe at the Indian Township Community Center, also known as “The Rec.”