Maine Gambling Laws + Statutes
It’s a funny thing, but when asking most residents of Maine about the laws in their state regarding gambling, they flat out can’t tell you whether it’s legal or not. All across the United States, the laws on the subject have become convoluted and are often subject to misinterpretation. While most US citizens and residents of Maine especially claim to have an interest in gambling, most do not take part, fearing more than anything else that they should be discovered and thrown in jail.
Surely, a long jail sentence merely for putting a couple dollars down on a hand of poker or the spin of a roulette wheel isn’t a high probability. However, more often than not, thanks to difficult to understand legislation and a wealth of poorly worded information coupled with poor assumptions, that is the popular belief amongst most residents of Maine. This page was written to help give the Pine Tree State’s residents a better idea of the legislation that governs their daily life and, at least in theory, keeps them from enjoying a responsible gambling hobby.
In accordance with federal law, while the facilitation of illicit gambling is a very serious crime, the law leaves individuals who merely wish to place bets or wagers well enough alone. Maine follows this outline very closely, but state legislation concerning gambling is not without its own nuance. The remainder of this webpage will not only guide residents of Maine through an in depth look at the policies governing their home state, but aid them in finding venues for gambling that are as safe as possible, both from legal prosecution and for their own financial well-being.
Legal Gambling in Maine
The reason so many tend to get confused about the stance on gambling taken by the lawmakers in Maine stems from the confusion between the terms “illegal” and “unlawful.” Something that is “illegal” is an actual crime that has a set punishment and sentencing terms established by the legislative document. In contrast, an act that is “unlawful” merely means that it is not specifically sanctioned by legal documents, and therefore cannot be punished by law enforcement agencies.
This is a confusing distinction because in title 17-A, part 2, chapter 39, subsection 952 heading 4, the act of gambling is indeed defined as when one “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 certainly an all-encompassing definition of gambling, and did the state code go on to outline a punishment and declare the act “illegal,” it could certainly be interpreted that the act of gambling in Maine is illegal. However, as the law currently stands, it is not.
This is because nowhere in Maine legislation did lawmakers bother to outline a punishment or sentence for those found to be “gambling” in the state of Maine. While this may make the act of gambling “unlawful” in that it is not specifically sanctioned by the law, since there are no penalties it can be assured that no one in Maine will be put on trial for placing bets or wagers on sports events or games of chance.
However, this should not be taken to mean that all gambling activity in Maine is a complete free-for-all. If one is found guilty of “Advancing Gambling Activity” in the state of Maine, they will be committing an illegal act. In accordance with title 17-A, part 2, chapter 39 subsection 954 of Maine state code, “Advancing Gambling Activity” is a class D crime which will result in a jail sentence of up to one year and a legal fine of as much as $2000. In addition, potential criminals may rest assured that this is a crime law enforcement will certainly be active in seeking out, and will attempt to charge perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.
No matter what happens, those who would gamble in Maine need to take extra special care not to take part in anything that can be construed as “advancing gambling activity” rather than merely “gambling.”
The Difference Between Gambling & Advancing Gambling Activity
Fortunately for those in Maine, it is bordering on impossible to inadvertently “advance gambling activity,” and the differences between that act and the simple act of gambling are as different as the punishments and legislation’s attitude regarding the two acts.
Breaking it down simply: at least two parties are required in order for gambling to take place. One person needs to deliberately walk into a building, pick up the phone, or log on to their computer with the express intention of making a bet. In order to place a bet, whether on a future event or game of chance, someone needs to take that bet and either operate the game or keep track of the bet and all the parameters that must be met in order for that bet to win. This second person taking the bet is most likely guilty of “advancing gambling activity,” and therefore susceptible to jail time and a steep fine.
However, this is not to say that Maine police are beating down the doors of private residences breaking up every poker game Jim the librarian hosts for all his buddies, because there are special conditions that must be met in order for anyone to be guilty of “advancing gambling activity,” namely, the guilty party must profit from the gambling that they are hosting.
To be clear, this does not mean that Jim the librarian played his cards right all night and at the end of the night came out ahead, the law would require that Jim profit off the gambling regardless of whether he was betting or not. There are several ways that Jim can set this up, but some of the most popular are charging admission merely for the privilege to play in the event, taking a “rake” from a poker game which involves keeping a small percentage of every pot as profit for the house, charging for refreshments or merchandise throughout the course of a game, operating a sportsbook in which Jim assumes responsibility for collecting from losing bets and paying out winning bets, (often taking a cut in the process) or operating any traditional casino games as the “house,” who always has the strongest odds of winning.
So long as any residents of Maine avoid these specific actions, they will not be acting against the law in anyway, and will therefore be completely safe from prosecution.
Gambling and Statutes in the State of Maine
In 1992, the federal government passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, more commonly referred to as the PASPA. The passage of this law effectively prohibited any states from sanctioning sports betting in their borders, so even if lawmakers in Maine (who as of the publishing of the web page are seeing about possibly alleviating some of the policy that has prevented them from opening a great deal of legal casinos) wanted to allow sports betting within the state, this federal law being as it is, they would be unable to.
For this reason, hundreds of Maine residents turn to legal online sportsbooks every day. These offshore websites manage several thousand US citizens every day, and since they are well outside both Maine and federal jurisdiction, there is no chance of the government shutting them down and seizing their funds. This makes betting on sports a very safe proposition for anyone living in Maine.
For a long time, the state of Maine did not sanction any forms of gambling. This changed recently when they all of a sudden granted permission for two casinos to open in their state with the potential for more on the way. In these facilities, residents may take advantage any of the hundreds of slot machines around the facility or the growing number of table games.
However, since two buildings is not much to share around the entire state of Maine, many residents still keep their legal online casino accounts active. Very few things can simulate the rush one gets from gambling and riding a hot streak in person, but these online variations can make for good hobbies in their own right. Gone are the days of needing to devote an entire weekend to driving out to a casino, and the days of logging on the computer to play a couple quick hands now and then are here thanks to these legal gambling websites.
With the casinos in Maine being fairly new, the live poker scene is just starting to gain steam. This means the selection may be somewhat stunted, and as a result crowded, but that is sure to change in the future. If you like to play poker but don’t have a home game, just hang in there and know that better things may be on the horizon.
It’s also good to know that despite sanctioning gambling in the state, Maine law enforcement will still not interfere with the sanctity of home poker games. Whether Jim the librarian has invited his friends over for his regular game (of which he will absolutely not make a profit!) or he just spends a quiet night in playing online poker on his computer, the state of Maine will leave him to his business.
Maine Gambling Ages - What's The Betting Age In Maine?
Maine is very lenient towards its residents who like to gamble, which is great. However, there is an easy way to throw all this goodwill away, and that’s by gambling underage. The legal age to gamble in the state is 21, and those who attempt to gamble under it leave themselves open to serious penalties. Let alone the fact that whichever facility catches an underage gambler will not only institute a lengthy ban, but seize all funds which the offender may otherwise be entitled to, they will probably inform state authorities as to what’s been happening. This could lead to steep legal penalties and even jail time if the perpetrator is over 18. There are things in life worth waiting for, and one is certainly the ability to gamble in peace.
Places to Gamble in Maine
On-Land: Maine is one of the states that has sanctioned gambling within its borders. The positive reception of this development has led to expansion of facilities and state of the art upgrades, even if the actual establishments are few and far between. Currently, there are a limited number of facilities in Maine that allow poker and casino games, but legislation is being talked over to allow more. Upon approval, Maine residents who want to gamble in casinos, and play in live poker games will have no issues getting a seat.
Online/Web-Based: The scant availability of gambling facilities isn’t such a terrible thing for Maine residents, since most kept their accounts with legal Maine gambling sites open from the day when there were casinos to be found at all.
Since these websites are located offshore, they are not under federal or Maine jurisdiction that prevents the facilitation of gambling throughout the rest of the state. Since these businesses operate legally in their native land, users can be assured that they are held up to high standards not only when it comes to financial security and fairness as it relates to payouts, but also that odds are adjusted for all players in such a way that they have even chances of winning across the board.
The Very Best Legal Gambling Site for Maine Residents
Bovada - Best Overall Real Money Gaming Site For Maine
If you want to try the absolute best that the world of legal online gambling has to offer, why wait around? Bovada is here for you. By logging onto this gambling network, you will have access to the top sportsbook in the world, one of the busiest poker rooms, and casino software unparalleled in the industry. This Maine gambling site has a list of customer endorsements a mile long as well as sponsorships from companies like FOX and CBS. It’s safe to say this kind of reputation was not earned easily or overnight, but through their over 20 years of dedicated service to players in Maine.
When you sign up at Bovada, know that there are a plethora of bonuses and promotions available to welcome you. No matter what type of gaming you desire, this legal Maine gambling site is fully stocked with offers that can be worth thousands of dollars. Each form of gaming carries a different bonus so be sure to check those in addition to the terms and conditions that come with accepting one of Bovada's bonuses.
Best Gambling Sites That Accept Maine Residents
Need More Help With The Laws?...
We stand by the information presented here on MaineGamblingLaws.com, but we are not legal professionals and it therefore cannot be taken as a consult. Further questions should be directed towards a lawyer or Maine legislation at legislature.maine.gov. Follow the preceeding link and you will be taken to a searchable database of Maine's laws where you can read the exact legal language for all of the laws we highlighted.