Maine’s two casinos raked in close to $144 million last year, setting a state gambling record.

Maine is one of 12 states with record casino gambling last year, according to a report from the American Gaming Association released Tuesday. Nationwide, gamblers spent almost $42.7 billion in two dozen states with legal casinos, the association said.

The 5 percent spending bump in Maine is tied to new customers from the opening of a hotel and expanded gaming floor at Oxford Casino, in Oxford, but Milt Champion, executive director of Maine’s gambling control unit, doesn’t expect the windfall to last.

New casinos in Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts, and possible legal sports betting in Maine may pull gamblers from Maine’s slot machines and table games in coming years, Champion said.

“I don’t think we will continue to see the increases,” he said. “There is only so much discretionary money, pretty soon you will see the casinos do a little bit less because sports wagering will come on board.”

“One impacts the other – it is very seldom that you see where there are big increases that just continue, continue, continue because there is only so much to go around.”

The casinos sent $58 million in tax revenue to the state in 2018, the report said.

Oxford Casino was the big winner last year, according to state records, bringing in almost $57 million in after-tax earnings, almost double the $32.8 million take at Hollywood Casino in Bangor.

Oxford has nearly 240 more slot machines than Hollywood, and 30 gaming tables to Hollywood’s 18.

A Oxford Casino spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the casino’s growth. The casino is owned by Churchill Downs, a Louisville, Kentucky, company that owns 11 U.S. racetracks and casinos.

Hollywood Casino is owned by Penn National Gaming Inc., from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. The company owns 40 casinos and racetracks nationwide.

Jeff Morris, Penn National vice president for public affairs and government relations, declined an interview request about the company’s Bangor operation.

“Per company policy, we don’t comment on per property results,” Morris said in an email.

Although casino gambling has spread across the country, David Forman, senior director of research at the American Gaming Association, said he is not worried about saturation. Half of U.S. states now allow casinos.

“I think anytime that half of the states with legal gaming set an all-time revenue (record) it is generally indicative of the industry’s strength and the strength of the overall economy,” Forman said.

New England, however, is one of the places analysts think may be reaching a saturation point, he added. The MGM Springfield casino in western Massachusetts opened last year and the Encore Boston Harbor, a 27-story resort and casino in Everett, Massachusetts, is supposed to open later this month.

Even in the face of new competition, Maine’s casinos have done better than other places, Forman added.

“Maine’s two casinos performed very well, they grew at a faster clip than the industry overall or the economy overall,” he said. “Maine is pretty well positioned to continue to succeed.”

Mainers soon might have new gambling options. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow people over 21 to bet on sports games online or in brick-and-mortar locations like racetracks, off-track betting parlors and casinos. The bill is awaiting a final review by a legislative panel before votes in the House and Senate.

Champion, from the state’s gambling control unit, believes the sports betting proposal is well-designed and clear-eyed in revenue projections and taxes.

“Maine has taken a very realistic look at any type of new gambling they are in the process of allowing,” Champion said. “I think Maine is in a very good position and I think it is a model state, not just someplace to look at as a little state in the right-hand corner.”


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