On Tuesday, the Maine Gambling Control Board issued the state’s first full casino license to Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway in Bangor, the first of two casino licenses expected to be awarded this year. The action came after the Board completed the rules for table games, which were authorized by local voters last November.


Once the 14 table games are added and the expansion is complete, the facility will be renamed Hollywood Casino Bangor, in line with Penn National’s featured Hollywood Casino brand at a dozen other locations around the country (including two which will open this year in Ohio). The casino, which has been a racetrack slot operation since November 2005, will include six blackjack tables, four Texas Hold ‘Em tables and one each for craps, roulette, Let-it-Ride poker and three-card poker. It is expected to open March 16.

The new table games will be taxed at the rate of 16 percent of gross gaming revenue (win). For comparison, slot machines have a 39 percent tax on gross gaming revenue plus a one percent tax on gross wagering (slot handle). That handle tax is unique in the North American gaming industry; I can’t think of any other jurisdiction that taxes gross play on casino games.

From inception through the end of 2011, machines at Hollywood Slots have generated $3.9 billion in gross handle, $315.8 million in gross gaming revenue (the state uses the term net revenue) and a combined $147.1 million in state revenue from the two tax rates. Annual gross gaming revenue peaked at almost $61.7 in 2010; in 2011 it declined by 3.6 percent to $59.5 million.

Meanwhile, Black Bear Entertainment is continuing to develop its new casino in Oxford, which may open by early summer. That property is likely to be the only other casino in the state for some time, since voters resoundingly defeated other gaming measures last November. The Gambling Control Board is expected to review Black Bear’s casino license request sometime in the next two months.