Members of the Gambling Control Board of the state debated on November 4th, 2009 about Hollywood Slots request to install a new type of slot machine but then decided to delay the decision on the issue pending more information on the matter.
The executive director of the Gambling Control Board, Bob Welch, brought the petition to bring “hosted” slot machines to the racino in Bangor. Welch explained that the machines will still be automated but instead of players placing money into the machines, a host employed by Hollywood Slots will do it for them.
The machines appear to be something of a compromise between standard slot machines and casino table games like blackjack and poker, which many would look to see eventually installed at Hollywood Slots. Some members of the board said that the definition of slot machine under existing state law is broad and this new machines technically matches that definition.
Board chairman George McHale said that it seems that nowhere in the law does it demand the gamer has to place money in the slot machine. He said that he do not see any valid ground to not grant the request. Others do not agree with McHale’s position.
Board member Peter Danton said that he considers it as a card game. Danton said that the gambling industry changes all the time but he said that would feel better if the state Legislature’s Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee made a decision.
Board member Richard Arnold expressed his concern that the hosted slot machines can accommodate up to five slots players at a time, although Welch stressed that gamers would be playing against the computer, not against each other. Arnold said that he agree that they need to have the issue clarified.
Another board member, Cushing Samp, said that it is the responsibility of the Gambling Control Board to make these kinds of decisions and not give them off to the state legislature. If the slot machines were approved, Welch said that Hollywood Slots would like add more machines on a trial basis.
The slots establishment is not expected to change the overall number of slot machine, which now sits at one thousand machines. There has been a long-running debate since Hollywood Slots opened to the public in Bangor in 2005 about whether the slots establishment should add traditional casino table games at some point. But this plan would need a legislative act and Governor John Baldacci has previously indicated that he would not approve any bill expands gaming.
For the meantime, Hollywood Slots has brought in the latest slot machines and Welch said that is all the hosted slot machines are although he said that they have the feel of a casino table game. After considerable study, the board agreed to review the issue at its December meeting after Welch and Bill Stokes of the Attorney General’s Office have gathered more information on the matter.