Gambling regulators in Maine have approved a measure that would allow online wagering on horse races. It’s a big move for a state that’s been slow to expand gambling options and shows exactly how much the worldwide COVID-19 lockdown is impacting and expanding gambling markets.

Wagering on harness racing has long been legal in Maine, but players were always required to place in-person bets. Under the new rules, players will be able to establish accounts with local casinos. Once they account is set up, players can fund it via credit or debit card and place their bets remotely. This form of wagering will only be open to Maine residents, though out-of-state players can still place bets at the track. (Unfortunately, harness racing is on hold due to the pandemic, but it’s expected to return eventually.)

The Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway is set to be the first Maine casino to offer remote horse race wagering and company officials are excited by the prospect of this new market. In a statement quoted by the Bangor Daily News, Christopher McErlean, Vice President of Racing for Penn National Gaming Inc. (owners of the Hollywood Casino) said, “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.”

A percentage of horse wagering revenues will go to supporting Maine’s harness racing industry.

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