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Maine Charitable Gaming

Charitable gaming is regulated by the Maine State Police Licensing Division. Games allowed are bingo and beano, which are interchangeable terms that represent a specific kind of game of chance where participants are given or sold one or more tally cards, each containing preprinted numbers or letters. Participants cover or mark the numbers or letters as similar numbers or letters are drawn. Winners are determined by the sequence and placement of the numbers or letters.

The Maine Chief of the State Police may issue licenses to operate beano or bingo games to any volunteer fire department, agricultural fair association, or nonprofit charitable, educational, political, civic, recreational, fraternal, religious, or veterans organization that has been in existence in the state at least two years prior to its license application.

The Chief of the State Police may also issue licenses to operate "high-stakes" (prizes with a value up to $25,000) beano or bingo to a federally recognized Indian tribe.

In May 2005, a bill to legalize video gaming machines run by nonprofit organizations was rejected in the state Senate.

In June 2005, a bill to permit poker nights and other "tournament game" nights was approved by the state House of Representatives. The bill would require that 75% of the proceeds go to a charitable organization. The bill died in the Senate in May 2006.

In April 2008, Gov. John Baldacci refused to sign a bill (LD 2236) that would have streamlined procedures that nonprofit organizations would have to follow to hold cribbage tournaments, card games and other fundraising activities. Baldacci, having used a pocket veto on the bill, remarked that he felt the bill "essentially deregulated gambling events held by nonprofit organizations." The bill would have replaced a multi-step process with a simple registration form.

Organizations having at least 90% of their members 62 years of age or older, operating beano or bingo games for their own recreation and not for profit, are exempt from application and licensing requirements.
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