Sports Betting Bill Moves Closer to Reality in New Hampshire

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New Hampshire is close to legalizing sports betting after a bill was overwhelmingly approved in the House.

30-second summary

  • New Hampshire is a small state that does not have much in the way of gambling
  • A new sports betting bill was passed by the House and will now go to the Senate
  • It would use 90% of the revenue for education and the rest for problem gambling programs
  • Another bill to legalize two casinos in the state has passed in the Senate

Gambling history in New Hampshire

New Hampshire is a very small state, with just 1.3 million inhabitants. It has no commercial or tribal casinos.

Some forms of poker, roulette, craps, and blackjack are available in smaller facilities. They operate under charitable gaming laws.

The tracks in the state are no longer used for racing, so there are somewhat bigger facilities for table games at these venues. Charitable table games give 35% of their revenues to a chosen charity. There is a $4 maximum bet and it is a popular pursuit in the state.

The state lottery was established in March 1964. Approximately 60% of lottery revenues are paid out in prizes. About 30% of the funds go to education.

Since its creation, over $1.7bn (£1.3bn) has gone to the state’s educational programs. Currently, over 1,250 retailers sell lottery tickets. Since 2005, scratch games have been legal in the state.

In 2010, the first online instant games became open to the public as part of a strategy by the government to boost tax revenues from the gambling sector. Since July 2017, the sale of lottery tickets online has been legal.

Road to sports betting legalization

Since sports betting became legal following the ending of the federal ban in May 2018, many states have been looking to get in on the action. To date, there are open sportsbooks in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Nevada, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Delaware, New Mexico, and West Virginia.

Many other states are close to legalizing sports betting. There is big money to be made, with the illegal sports betting market supposedly accepting more than $150bn (£113bn) in bets each year.

New Hampshire is well on its way to attracting some of these revenues through a proposed bill. Under this bill, the state’s lottery commission would regulate sports betting. The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the House by a 269-82 vote and it now goes to the Senate.

If it also passes the Senate, for Governor Chris Sununu will have to sign it into law. The governor has supported legal sports betting in the past, so that step seems likely.

Big plans

The goal of legalizing sports betting in New Hampshire would be to get more funds for education. It would also help to protect consumers who are now placing sports bets illegally.

Of course, there are opponents to the bill. Some say that problem gambling will increase and that the mental health workers in the state will have even more work on their hands.

A session involving lottery executives from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire followed the House vote. Industry stockholders, legislators, and legal experts also attended the session at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

Under House Bill 480, 10% of the revenues would go toward the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction. The other 90% would go to education.

This would make it one of the more significant sports betting bills in the country when it comes to helping gambling addiction programs. Because New Hampshire is a small state, the revenue estimates are not very high. For the 2021 fiscal year, it is estimated that between $1.5m (£1.1m) and $7.5m (£4.2m) would be raised for educational programs. That could rise to $13.5m (£10.2m) by 2023.

The bill would legalize both retail and mobile sports betting. New Jersey gets more than 80% of its sports betting revenue through mobile sportsbooks. New Hampshire expects a similar trend to emerge in its region. Individual towns would have the power to approve sports betting lounges.

There would be a maximum of ten of these facilities in the state. Betting would be allowed on all professional sports events and on college events in which New Hampshire teams are not participating.

A bill to allow two casinos in the state was passed by the Senate by a 13-11 vote but has not yet come before the house.