Gambling board approves new card game for Oxford Casino

Posted Sept. 18, 2013, at 7:12 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Members of the Maine Gambling Control Board approved rules for a new card game at Oxford Casino during their meeting Tuesday.

With little discussion, board members unanimously approved the casino’s request to add Spanish 21 to its repertoire of table games.

The game is similar to standard blackjack, with some subtle differences, including removing the 10 cards from the deck and different ways to bet and win, Gambling Control Board Executive Director Patrick Fleming told the board.

Oxford Casino purchased the rights to use the game’s rules in its casino from a separate company, Fleming said.

Jack Sours, Oxford Casino vice president and general manager, told the board that customers had been asking for Spanish 21 and he expected the game would be popular. After the meeting, he said the Spanish 21 table would replace one of the casino’s blackjack tables.

Although an Oxford Casino dealer was on hand with cards and chips to demonstrate how to play the game, board member Matt Dyer questioned the need.

Almost all the requests for new rules submitted to the board by the state’s two casinos were already being used in other states, Dyer noted.

While he appreciated that the casinos were willing to demonstrate the new rules to the board, he was more concerned with whether the games were established and approved in other jurisdictions.

“I tend to feel like the lessons in how to play the game, to me, are not all that helpful, because I invariably find I can’t follow it,” he joked.

If a game proved to be popular elsewhere and was approved by regulatory bodies in other states, he didn’t see why the board needed more detail to approve use by a Maine casino.

“Who are we to say no?” Dyer asked fellow board members.

Fleming said the game rules were used widely in other jurisdictions.

Chairman Tim Doyle said he agreed with Dyer’s argument.

“I think our overarching concern is: is this game something that can be played with integrity and are the rights of the people playing it being taken advantage of?” he said.

He hoped that in the future the board could find a way to approve new game rules so that it would apply to both casinos, without a need to approve the same rules with separate votes.

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