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New Hampshire Regulates Sports Betting With HB480 Bill

NH Outline Map

New Hampshire is a state that does not typically make many headlines due to its small size and population, but it did on June 13 after an amended House bill was finally passed to legalize sports betting. It then headed to Governor Chris Sununu whose approval of the bill is seen as almost assured.

Chris SununuNew Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu

Indeed, Governor Sununu has already expressed his appreciation for the positive impact sports betting could have on the New Hampshire government. In his 2019 Budget Address, delivered Feb. 14, 2019, Sununu said:

This budget increases our education revenue streams by legalizing sports betting, which will bring in an additional $10 million in annual revenue beginning in fiscal year 2021. Given our new opportunities to legalize sports betting in a responsible and reliable way, and capture more revenue for our education system, I say we go All In and get it Done!

HB480, as it is known, was passed through the state’s House with little issue by a margin of 269-82 on March 19. In the Senate, however, the bill was amended – a process that took some time and delayed the eventual passing of the bill. Finally, the Senate OKed the legislation with a voice vote on April 30. On June 13, the House agreed via voice vote with the Senate's amendments, and HB480 proceeded to the desk of the governor.

Gambling in New Hampshire Today

Pair of Binoculars

New Hampshire is not very large, and a byproduct of this is a gambling industry that is almost nonexistent. There are no casinos allowable by law, and the horse tracks that do exist no longer host any races. Laws that allow gambling so long as a majority of the revenue goes to charitable organizations do exist, but bets are typically capped at just a few dollars. Even the race tracks that are still operational solely operate as betting facilities.

The lone other allowable method of gambling in New Hampshire is the state lottery. It does not take much more investigation to make the determination that New Hampshire is not exactly a top gambling destination. Indeed, many of its citizens who enjoy real money gaming entertainments must head online, to New Hampshire internet poker sites and other similar virtual betting parlors, in order to obtain the action they seek.

The hope, with HB480, is that this will change to some degree and that a significant increase in tax revenues from gambling will be seen.

Representative Tim Lang (R), who helped craft the bill, spoke on just how much tax revenue can be expected. In fact, Lang’s main motivation for pushing this bill was to increase the state’s revenues. He said that “Our conservative estimate in the first year was about $1.7 million and on the top end is around $10 million. So that’s a good number.”

Tim LangState Representative Tim Lang Supported the Legalization of Sports Betting

There are plenty of doubts being cast on these projections, but if other states’ numbers are any indication, it seems like New Hampshire has set an attainable revenue target. An overwhelming majority of the money generated from taxing sports betting will go directly to the state education system as well as a Council for Responsible Gambling, which will help individuals with gambling addictions.

When Will Sports Betting Begin? Where Can You Bet?

Question Mark

One of the amendments that the New Hampshire Senate made to HB480 was with regard to the bill’s effective date. The bill, thanks to the amendment, becomes effective the second it is passed, which means that the only thing left is for the sports betting industry’s regulatory body to formulate the necessary rules under which this activity will operate.

The body that will be tasked with writing and regulating the rules of sports betting exists already in the form of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. Once rules have been drafted and accepted, sports betting will officially begin. The hope is that New Hampshire residents and visitors will be able to bet on sports by the New Year 2020; however, there is no clear way of knowing if this target will be met.

Betting will be allowed for all people who are at least 18 years of age. There will be brick-and-mortar facilities for sports betting, but it is believed that online betting will be more popular. As of now, it is unclear how the state will prove that a prospective online bettor is of age; however, that will likely be worked out by the Lottery Commission.

A rule worth mentioning is one we have seen in a few other states, such as Illinois. Betting is allowed on most professional and Division I college sports, but no bets on sporting events involving New Hampshire schools will be permitted.

Sports Betting Licensure

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Sportsbook licenses will only be awarded to carefully vetted organizations. According to the bill itself, the Lottery Commission will consider things like the prospective licensee’s financial stability, their ability to serve proposed locations for sportsbooks, their contribution to New Hampshire economic development, and their commitment to preventing problem gambling. Once the commission has evaluated all prospective candidates, they will whittle the group down to approved entities, which will then partake in a competitive bidding process.

There will be only 5 online, or mobile, sportsbook licenses awarded to operators. The operators must be capable of proving that a prospective bettor is both of age (18) and is placing a bet while physically within the state. There are also daily, weekly, and monthly wagering limits that must be set by the Lottery Commission and adhered to by operators.

When it comes to physical sports betting licenses, there will be 10 available for operators to bid on. They will be allowed to offer all types of wagers apart from in-play or live betting.

Something worth noting is that the bill mandates that a town or municipality must be able to vote on whether they would like to see a betting facility or not. In addition, the bill also stipulates that a public hearing be held 15-30 days before the aforementioned vote takes place, ensuring that the towns where sports betting facilities are built are in favor of it.

Lottery Getting in on the Action Directly

Man Running

In addition to the licenses granted to third parties, the New Hampshire Lottery will also be allowed to book sports bets through its preexisting network of lottery retailers. However, they will be restricted to handling action that's not included in the category of in-play betting and that doesn't depend on the outcome or score of a single match. This means that Lottery-directed sports wagering will likely focus on props and/or parlay bets.

By excluding itself from certain types of bets, the New Hampshire Lottery is likely attempting to placate would-be license applicants who would probably be discouraged if they had to compete with the Lottery across the entire spectrum of betting options. At the same time, existing lottery partners will be mollified by the ability to derive some revenue from sports bets, albeit only in niche betting possibilities, even as they see competition for New Hampshire gambling dollars grow.

NH Surprisingly Active in Online Gambling

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Though there has been little talk of expanding into regulated online poker and casino games in New Hampshire, we cannot rule it out entirely. After all, with daily fantasy sports legalized in 2017 and now traditional sports betting, state leaders do seem entirely willing to expand the opportunities for its citizenry to partake in licensed online gaming.

Further bolstering the case for an eventual appearance of more types of internet wagering in NH is the fact that the state has been prominent in defending its right to regulate whatever forms of gambling it chooses. It won an important court case against the Department of Justice involving the Wire Act in early June, and so New Hampshire has established a reputation as a kind of champion of state-licensed online gaming.

New Hampshire Legalizes Sports Betting

Bet Online Now

Stacks of Dollar Bills

While we're excited to see the realm of legalized real money gaming continuously expanding, now into the State of New Hampshire, we're happier engaging in a different type of betting. You see, there are offshore bookmakers who are already in existence and who are glad to transact with NH residents.

There are no laws at either the state or federal level preventing you from patronizing these establishments. They may provide a superior experience to any state-licensed sports betting companies that appear in The Granite State because they're exempt from the restrictions and handicaps placed on their regulated counterparts.

For our recommendations as to the best international sports betting sites, consult our roundup of USA-friendly online sportsbooks. If you'd rather test your skill at the card game tables, then check out our internet poker guide for American players. Finally, casino gaming enthusiasts can get their fill of online action with our top-rated online casinos.

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