Maine Gambling Laws

Maine does not have a large gambling industry, but the local gambling facilities do cover most of the important bases. Local gambling enthusiasts are free to engage in pari-mutuel betting (legalized in 1935), to participate in lottery games (1973), to play bingo (1975), and to enjoy popular casino games and poker (2003). State-sanctioned online gambling options are limited to paid-entry DFS contests, but this is likely to change thanks to a bipartisan sports betting bill, which will likely go into effect in September 2019.

Maine Revised Statutes define gambling as “staking or risking something of value on the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event, with the intent to receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.” This definition is broad enough to cover Internet games, but isn’t as relevant to individual gamblers as in other states. This is because the offense of unlawful gambling is defined as “intentionally or knowingly advancing or profiting from unlawful gambling activity.” Thus,  participating in an unlawful game as a player isn’t enough to get a person convicted on an unlawful gambling charge, which is a good thing since the penalty can range from one to three years in prison. There is only one exception to this rule, as a person can be found guilty of unlawful gambling if that person is under 21 years of age and plays a slot machine.

Most gambling-related matters are covered in Maine Revised Statute, Title 8: Amusements and Sports. The minimum gambling age is 18 for lottery, bingo, and pari-mutuel betting, and 21 for casino-style games, including poker.

Maine Revised Statutes

Title 17-A: MAINE CRIMINAL CODE Part 2:
SUBSTANTIVE OFFENSES
Chapter 39: UNLAWFUL GAMBLING

§952. Definitions

As used in this chapter, the following definitions apply:

   1. “ADVANCE GAMBLING ACTIVITY.” A person “advances gambling activity” if, acting other than as a player or a member of the player’s family residing with a player in cases in which the gambling takes place in their residence, he engages in conduct that materially aids any form of gambling activity. Conduct of this nature includes, but is not limited to, bookmaking, conduct directed toward the creation or establishment of the particular game, contest, scheme, device or activity involved, toward the acquisition or maintenance of premises, paraphernalia, equipment or apparatus therefor, toward the solicitation or inducement of persons to participate therein, toward the actual conduct of the playing phases thereof, toward the arrangement of any of its financial or recording phases, or toward any other phase of its operation. A person also advances gambling activity if, having substantial proprietary control or other authoritative control over premises being used with his knowledge for purposes of gambling activity, he permits that activity to occur or continue, or makes no effort to prevent its occurrence or continuation.

   2. “Bookmaking” means advancing gambling activity by unlawfully accepting bets from members of the public as a business, rather than in a casual or personal fashion, upon the outcomes of future contingent events.

   3. CONTEST OF CHANCE. “Contest of chance” means any game, contest, scheme or device in which:

     A. A person stakes or risks something of value for the opportunity to win something of value;

     B. The rules of operation or play require an event the result of which is determined by chance, outside the control of the contestant or participant; and

     C. Chance enters as an element that influences the outcome in a manner that can not be eliminated through the application of skill.

For the purposes of this subsection, “an event the result of which is determined by chance” includes but is not limited to a shuffle of a deck or decks of cards, a roll of a die or dice or a random drawing or generation of an object or objects that may include, but are not limited to, a card or cards, a die or dice, a number or numbers or simulations of any of these. A shuffle of a deck or decks of cards, a roll of a die or dice, a random drawing or generation of an object or objects or some other event the result of which is determined by chance that is employed to determine impartially the initial order of play in a game, contest, scheme or device does not alone make a game, contest, scheme or device a game of chance.

   4. “GAMBLING.” 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. Gambling does not include bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts, including but not limited to contracts for the purchase or sale at a future date of securities or commodities, and agreements to compensate for loss caused by the happening of chance, including but not limited to contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health or accident insurance.

   5. “Gambling device” means any device, machine, paraphernalia or equipment that is used or usable in the playing phases of any gambling activity, whether that activity consists of gambling between persons or gambling by a person involving the playing of a machine. However, lottery tickets and other items used in the playing phases of lottery schemes are not gambling devices within this definition.

   5-A. “Illegal gambling machine” means any machine, including electronic devices, however operated:

     A. The internal mechanism or components of which when set in motion or activated may deliver or entitle the person playing or operating the machine to receive cash, premiums, merchandise, tickets or something of value;

     B. That is used to advance gambling activity;

     C. That is not a machine that a person may lawfully operate pursuant to a license that has been issued under Title 17, chapter 62 or that is operated by the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations; and

     D. That is not a slot machine registered pursuant to Title 8, section 1020 and owned by a slot machine distributor licensed pursuant to Title 8, section 1013.

   6. “Lottery” means an unlawful gambling scheme in which:

     A. The players pay or agree to pay something of value for chances, represented and differentiated by numbers or by combinations of numbers or by some other medium, one or more of which chances are to be designated the winning ones; and

     B. The winning chances are to be determined by a drawing or by some other method based on an element of chance; and

     C. The holders of the winning chances are to receive something of value.

   7. “Mutuel” means a form of lottery in which the winning chances or plays are not determined upon the basis of a drawing or other act on the part of persons conducting or connected with the scheme, but upon the basis of the outcome or outcomes of a future contingent event or events otherwise unrelated to the particular scheme.

   8. “Player” means a person who engages in social gambling solely as a contestant or bettor on equal terms with the other participants therein without receiving or becoming entitled to receive something of value or any profit therefrom other than his personal gambling winnings. “Social gambling” is gambling, or a contest of chance, in which the only participants are players and from which no person or organization receives or becomes entitled to receive something of value or any profit whatsoever, directly or indirectly, other than as a player, from any source, fee, remuneration connected with said gambling, or such activity as arrangements or facilitation of the game, or permitting the use of premises, or selling or supplying for profit refreshments, food, drink service or entertainment to participants, players or spectators. A person who engages in “bookmaking” as defined in subsection 2 is not a “player.”

   9. “PROFIT FROM GAMBLING ACTIVITY.” A person “profits from gambling activity” if, other than as a player, he accepts or receives money or other property pursuant to an agreement or understanding with any person whereby he participates or is to participate in the proceeds of gambling activity.

   10. “Something of value” means any money or property, any token, object or article exchangeable for money or property, or any form of credit or promise directly or indirectly contemplating transfer of money or property, or of any interest therein, or involving extension of a service, entertainment or a privilege of playing at a game or scheme without charge.

   11. “Unlawful” means not expressly authorized by statute. An activity not expressly authorized by statute does not cease to be unlawful solely because it is authorized under federal law or the laws of another state or jurisdiction.

954. Unlawful gambling

1. Any person is guilty of unlawful gambling if that person intentionally or knowingly advances or profits from unlawful gambling activity.

1-A. A person is guilty of unlawful gabling if the person is under 21 years of age and plays a slot machine as defined in Title 8, section 1001, subsection 39.

2. Unlawful gambling is a Class D crime.  [Editor’s Note:  A Class D crime is punishable by one to three years in prison.]

3. A person convicted of a violation under this section must forfeit to the State all income associated with that violation.

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