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Maine Poker & Gambling Laws

Maine Poker OnlineMaine poker and gambling laws are similar to those in many other “colonial” states inasmuch as they were created back in the 1800s to control betting on harness racing, amended in the 1900s to control mob activity and generally tinkered with from time to time in between.

That´s not to say there hasn’t been any progress made towards a regulated gambling environment in the past one hundred years. The state now has a lottery, variety of tribal bingo halls, licensed harness racing, a limited number of off-track betting parlors, and two brick-and-mortar casinos.

Can Players From Maine Play Poker Online?

Yes! There is plenty of choice for players from Maine for playing poker online. Many operators continue to accept players from the United States, and all of their websites accept players from Maine. It is a very simple process to sign up at an online poker site, and you can be playing real money poker games in a matter of minutes.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Maine?

The answer to the question Is it legal is I´m not sure. Maine has several laws in place with regards to gambling and there is a ways in which they could be interpreted to carve out an exclusion for online poker, provided you play it from home:

  • Gambling is defined in Maine´s Criminal Code [1] as risking something of value on the outcome of a contest of chance not under his control (§952.4).
  • A contest of chance is defined as any game in which a random drawing of cards or a simulation of these takes place (§952.3).
  • Playing on a gambling device used to advance gambling activity is illegal (§952.5-A (B)), so at the moment, playing online poker looks very illegal.
  • However, under §952.1 – Advance gambling activity – there is a general exclusion in cases in which the gambling takes place in their residences.

I wouldn´t invite all your buddies around to play online poker simultaneously, because you would likely be breaking the terms of service of the online poker sites you use. But it does look as though you are not breaking any laws by playing online poker in Maine. As usual, I suggest you seek professional legal advice before taking my word for the legality of playing online poker in Maine.

Maine Gambling History

Maine may not be the most gambling rich state, but it has a long history of gambling. The first legalized gambling came to the state in the form of a race track. The Scarborough Downs Harness Race Trace opened in 1950, and it is still open today. Pari-mutuel betting is allowed on harness racing at Scarborough Downs and at the state´s other harness racing track in Bangor, and also at licensed agricultural fairs.

In 1973, Maine legalized a state lottery. This was one of the first states to offer lottery to their residents. It was very popular and by 1985 the state had developed a multi-state lottery with New Hampshire and Vermont. The year 1985 also brought about the legalization of charitable gambling and bingo in Maine.

After the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 passed the Indian Tribes in Maine fought for their rights to open gaming. They were allowed bingo halls. High stakes bingo games are offered, and this has been a lucrative business that has attracted tourists. The tribes have tried to expand gaming to add other casino games, but the state of Maine has not allowed it thus far.

The two harness racing tracks were allowed to install slot machines following a referendum in 2003 and two brick-and-mortar casinos were also approved by voters in 2010. Subsequent legislation has allowed for four off-track betting parlors in Maine; but further expansions of gambling have been firmly rejected in subsequent referendums.

Will Maine Regulate Online Poker In The Future?

Due to Maine´s proximity to several states that have regulated online poker – or who are candidates to do so in the near future – you would have expect some movement towards legislation in recent years, but there hasn´t been any – despite plenty of activity in the brick-and-mortar casino sector [2].

This probably due to Maine having a relatively small population (1.3 million) and a limited gambling heritage (only three players have live poker earnings in excess of $500,000 [3]). There is not going to be a lot of revenue generated for neither the state nor online poker operators, so nobody is pushing very hard for regulation.

I´m not ruling out the possibility of regulated online poker in Maine in the future, but I do feel for the reasons mentioned above, it is not something high on the state´s priorities. If anything happens in the future, the best source of information will likely be the news pages of the Gambling Control Unit [4] – assuming of course you are not a frequent visitor to USAFriendlyPokerSites!

References:

  1. Jump up ^ Maine Criminal Code §952
  2. Jump up ^ Maine Casino Gambling Legislative History
  3. Jump up ^ Hendon Mob Database - Maine
  4. Jump up ^ Maine Gambling Control Unit News
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