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Players in the US state of Maine will now be able to bet on horse racing from the convenience of their digital devices. 

The Maine Gaming Control Board gave horse racing the green light last week and will allow users to wager on both US and international events. 

Penn National Casinos’ website will have a monopoly on the vertical’s online version for the time being. 

As well as cell phones and tablets, Maine players will also be able to bet on and watch horse racing from their laptops and computers. 

Ideal timing

The MGCB’s approval means that qualifying Maine residents will be able to bet on events that take place at racing tracks in the state – once horse racing resumes. All individuals aged 18 and above will be able to sign up for an account with Hollywood Races. 

They will be able to fund their account either through their credit card, ACH transfers or at the track once crowds are allowed to return. 

Penn National Gaming Inc.’s Vice President of Racing, Christoper McErlean, believes that now is an ideal time for online horse racing to be legalized. 

Cited from an article published in the Bangor Daily News, he had the following to say. 

“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.

“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.”

What about sports betting? 

The Pine Tree State has made efforts to introduce regulated sports betting in recent years. However, these have all been fruitless thus far. 

For this year at least, that’s how things will stay. Back in February, the House opted to sustain a veto on a proposed sports betting bill. 

Had this bill been passed, both on and offline sports betting would have been permitted via licensed outlets. Supporters of the legislation had argued that players are already wagering within this vertical, but with unregulated betting operators. 

At the time, Republican Jeffrey Evangelos said that it’s impossible to “legislate fun”. He argued players in the state were still going to bet, regardless of the official stance on its legality. 

Bordering New Hampshire has already approved the legalization of online sports betting, as has nearby Rhode Island.

Neighboring Massachusetts is also considering the possibility of regulating the vertical. However, whether or not that happens may be determined by COVID-19.

When the sports betting bill in Maine was vetoed earlier this year, Governor Janet Mills said that the state simply wasn’t ready to introduce it yet. In a letter she wrote in January, Mills argued the below. 

“Before Maine joins the frenzy of states hungry to attract this market, I believe we need to examine the issue more clearly; better understand the evolving experiences of other states; and thoughtfully determine the best approach for Maine.” 

With that in mind, the successful implementation of digital wagers for horse racing could provide a catalyst for the regulation of Maine’s sports betting market.

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