Racers make their way around the track during a 2017 harness race at the Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway at Bass Park in Bangor. The Maine Gaming Control Board on Tuesday approved remote wagering for the state's racing fans. Credit: Ashley L. Conti

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Harness racing in Maine remains on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that is no longer going to prevent fans from placing bets on harness and thoroughbred racing.

Hollywood Races in Bangor was prepared to go live Thursday afternoon with remote wagering after the Maine Gambling Control Board on Tuesday gave final approval for residents to place bets on horse racing from anywhere in the state.

“We are excited to bring this form of gaming to Maine,” said Christopher McErlean, Vice President of Racing for Penn National Gaming Inc. “This is a tried and tested use of technology for more people to get excited about the sport of horse racing, any time of day, any day of the year, and allows Mainers to enjoy races taking places across the world from the comfort of their own home.”

Penn National owns and operates Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway in Bangor.

Previously, racing fans were permitted to wager on horse racing only at a racetrack or off-track betting facility.

Approval for remote betting means fans will be able to wager on races contested at tracks in Maine once harness racing is approved to begin. Bets can be placed and the races watched using a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Any Maine resident 18 or older can go online to set up an account and, once established, may download the Hollywood Races app on their phone or tablet. Fans may then watch the action and wager on their computer, or call in a wager by phone.

Bettors who have established an online account and been authenticated can fund their accounts credit card transactions, ACH transfers or, when racing resumes at Bangor Raceway, at the track.

“With more and more racing coming back around the world, this is nice timing for any racing enthusiast in Maine who has missed visiting simulcast wagering facilities, OTBs, or the tracks,” McErlean said.“Importantly, a percentage of revenues from Hollywood Races will go to the state and support the harness racing industry in Maine, similar to what is in place at Hollywood Casino.”

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Pete Warner

Pete is a Bangor native who graduated from Bangor High School, Class of 1980. He earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He has been a full-time member of the Bangor...