BANGOR — The state’s first full-fledged casino opened this morning as Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway in Bangor added the green felt of 14 poker tables to its banks of brightly flashing slot machines.

Some 15 people waited in the casino lobby for the doors to open at 8 a.m. and the chance to be the first to hit the tables.

Among them was Tom Gagne of Bangor.

“It’s about time,” he said, noting that with the price of gas, he would rather not make the drive to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. He prefers poker to slots. “I’d rather hold cards than push a button,” he said.

Larry Baum, a lobsterman, drove from Rockland with his friend Tim Fowler, who owns a campground.

“We wanted to be here when they opened,” Baum said. “We generally go to Vegas, Miami, all over the country.” Baum also prefers poker – specifically blackjack – to slot machines.

“We just feel we control our own destiny,” he said.

The numbers in the casino quickly swelled, and by 9 a.m. there were 100 people playing Texas Hold’em, blackjack, roulette and three- and four- card versions of poker.

“It’s probably a little busier than we thought it would be at 8 a.m.,” said John Osborne, the casino’s general manager. “What’s it going to be when people get out of work?”

Players wagered with red $5 chips and white $1 chips, some quietly intense and others erupting into loud cheers when they won.

“Yes! Yes!” barked Gerry Beckwith of Hampden, as the roulette wheel’s white ball settled into the slot for number 29. Beckwith’s payout was 2-1 on a pair of $11 bets.

“It don’t work sometimes,” he said knowingly, as his next wagers were gathered in by the roulette dealer after the ball fell into a less fortuitous slot.

Voters approved expanding the slot machine offerings of Hollywood Slots to table games in a November referendum. A new casino slated to open in Oxford County in May or June also will offer table games.


Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.