“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.” (1)
As far as this applying to poker goes, as is generally the case, it is dependant on how “contest of chance” is defined. If contest of chance is primarily defined as a true matter of chance, then it may come down to whether poker is seen as essentially a game of chance or whether the element of skill that is involved in the game is enough to sufficiently distinguish it to have it fall outside this definition, or at least have its falling within it cast into enough doubt as to have the courts decide it may not be, which is enough.
The reason why you see legislators strive for as much clarity as possible in the law is to exclude any such doubt, as where there is doubt, since the burden is on the law to be clear, when it isn’t then it is generally found to not apply.
So let’s look at how Maine defines contests of chance, to see if poker playing is a game of chance in this state:
“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. (2)
How This All Applies To Poker in Maine
With poker, at least with real money poker, players do risk something of value in the game, the rules do require that an element of chance be used, and while the outcome can be influenced by skill, the element of chance cannot be eliminated by skill, unless you cheated by stacking the deck of course.
So oddly enough, if you cheated completely at poker this wouldn’t seem to qualify as gambling, but even cheaters do rely on some element of chance, so poker is clearly a contest of chance, and therefore is defined as a form of gambling in Maine.
To further clarify this, the section goes on to explain that the shuffling of cards, where it doesn‘t just include determining the order of play but actually forms an element of the game itself, also distinguishes it as a contest of chance, which is the case with poker. (3)
So let’s move on to unlawful gambling in Maine. The law states that “any person is guilty of unlawful gambling if that person intentionally or knowingly advances or profits from unlawful gambling activity.” (4)
This requires that players advance or profit from unlawful gambling activity, which means that “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. (5)
So there you have it, the law here applies to those promoting gambling and is not directed at those who merely gamble. Most states make it pretty explicit that participating in gambling is a crime, others suggest it might be but may not be clear enough on it, however in a few states, as is the case here, it’s simply not a crime at all to gamble.
Playing Poker In Maine; Both Live & Online
There are two land based casinos which are in operation in the state of Maine, and only one offers poker, which is the Hollywood Casino in Bangor.(6) It only has 4 poker tables, so the action is rather limited, but still provides at least some poker action to those who crave live poker.
There are no plans on regulating poker in Maine right now, however, with their not having any restrictions on participating in gambling, this is one state where it is not really needed, as players from Maine already have full access to the several offshore poker rooms that accept Americans from select states at their online poker sites, and all warmly welcome Maine residents.
So unlike a lot of states where players are acting against some pretty clear laws against playing poker for money while being located in the state, with no such restrictions currently in place in Maine, there is no reason at all not to partake if you wish. People aren’t being prosecuted in any of these other states so players really don’t worry about that but it is certainly better not to have to worry about any of this at all.
Our top 2 recommendations for online poker for Maine residents are Ignition Poker and America’s Cardroom. Both offer good traffic, easy deposits and withdrawals, and nice welcome bonuses just for giving them a try. If you are from Maine and are looking to play a little online poker and haven’t tried one or both of these sites before, you’re more than welcome to click on our links to learn more about these top poker sites.
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