AUGUSTA — Hollywood Slots officially won Maine’s first full-service casino license Tuesday.

The Maine Gambling Control Board granted a casino license to the Bangor business, which will expand from a slots-only operation in the coming weeks. The legal formality marks the final step in Maine’s evolution into a full-fledged gaming state.

Hollywood Casino Bangor, as the expanded operation will be known, is expected to open March 16 with the state’s first 14 casino table games. There will be six tables for blackjack, four for Texas Hold ‘Em poker and one each for let-it-ride poker, three-card poker, craps and roulette.

Hollywood’s slot machines and off-track betting facility, which it has operated since 2005, will remain open for business in the meantime, said Maine Gambling Control Director Patrick Fleming.

Hollywood’s expansion was approved by the state Legislature and by Penobscot County voters.

While most of the business’ revenues will still come from slots, the 14 table games will add 89 jobs paying $4 million in salaries and benefits, said John Osborne, general manager. And for gamblers, it will finally mean no more having to leave the state to legally bet on cards or dice.

Although gambling opponents lost the fight to keep casinos out of the state, they will continue to oppose the industry, said Carroll Conley, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine.

“We don’t think it makes sense economically and we have great concerns about the social costs as well,” Conley said. “We will continue to fight any expansion.”

The Gambling Control Board issued the license for Hollywood Slots after setting up extensive rules for table games, including everything from surveillance and money handling to the configuration and size of the dice.

The board on Tuesday also issued Maine’s first license for a casino supplies distributor to Gaming Products International USA. The Las Vegas company had to submit to financial reviews and background checks on its executives to win the license. It can now sell the dice, cards, tables and other equipment needed to furnish Maine’s first casino.

Hollywood Slots probably won’t be the only Maine casino for long, however. The Gambling Control Board is expected to vote in March or April on a license for Black Bear Development’s casino in Oxford.

The Oxford casino is expected to open for business in May or June.

 

MaineToday Media State House Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: [email protected]