More and more, legislators across the U.S. are coming to the realization that online gaming proponents have been right all along. Legalizing online gambling and gaming activities is a sure-fire way to keep revenues flowing under virtually any circumstance, such as the massive hit received by the coronavirus pandemic. Those states that had the foresight to legalize online gaming and virtual sportsbooks when they approved expanded gambling operations have been able to keep at least some revenue coming in, and Maine is now ready to, slowly, join the party. The Maine Gambling Control Board approved a measure this past Tuesday that will allow state residents to place wagers on horseraces through online sportsbooks.
Before the new rules were implemented, only in-person wagers on horse races were allowed at one of the state’s racetracks or off-track gambling venues. Harness racing is still on hold because of the health pandemic but, once it makes a return, state residents will be able to break out their smartphone or tablet, or even a computer, and place their bets. The first to go live with the option is Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway, a Penn National gambling property that offers the Hollywood Races app.
Christopher McErlean, Vice President of Racing for Penn National Gaming Inc, said in a statement, “We are excited to bring this form of gaming to Maine. This is a tried and tested use of technology for more people to get excited about the sport of horse racing, any time of day, any day of the year, and allows Mainers to enjoy races taking places across the world from the comfort of their own home.”
Maine has always had a difficult time believing expanded gambling options were necessary. As far back as seven years ago, opponents tried to stop the state from approving new gaming expansion laws, arguing that they would cause the state’s economy to contract. They were obviously proven wrong, and it wasn’t until the coronavirus pandemic that the state took a revenue hit from the lack of gaming. When sports gambling came up for discussion after the reversal of PASPA, Governor Janet Mills rejected legislation, essentially stating that it would lead to improper types of wagers – including on spelling bees. Because, of course, legal sports gambling states are running a lot of spelling bee odds.
Fortunately, since desperate times call for desperate measures, legislators are finally opening their eyes to the reality of the situation, not willing to be as influenced by the opinions of a select, limited number of individuals. This is going to help the entire gambling space expand, which could be viewed as one of the few positive benefits to have risen out of the COVID-19 debacle.
In Maine, gamblers who want to place horseracing wagers online will need to create an online account and have it authenticated. Once that happens, they can fund the accounts with credit cards, bank transfers or live deposits. McErlean adds, “With more and more racing coming back around the world, this is nice timing for any racing enthusiast in Maine who has missed visiting simulcast wagering facilities, OTBs, or the tracks. Importantly, a percentage of revenues from Hollywood Races will go to the state and support the harness racing industry in Maine, similar to what is in place at Hollywood Casino.”