Representative Timothy Lang’s proposal to authorize legal sports betting in New Hampshire, H480, went to a vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. After a brief debate, lawmakers voted to pass an amended version of the bill onto the Senate by a vote of 269-82.
Some of the key amendments to the bill include:
- A limit of 10 retail sportsbooks
- Establishing a council for responsible gaming
- Allowing for multiple partnerships
- The clarification of the definition of “prohibited event”
- Describes what bet types are available to operators
Urgency is starting to become a key component in New Hampshire. Rhode Island already has a legal sports betting operation and is very close to allowing for mobile/online betting. Connecticut is pushing towards legalization as well, and every state in New England has an active bill regarding sports betting.
The bill would bring sports betting to New Hampshire similar to the way Rhode Island operates. Under the bill, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission would allow for sports betting at retail locations and via online/mobile platforms.
H480 would allow for sports wagering at up to 10 retail locations. The bill would also allow for legal betting on professional sports and most Division I college sports, excluding games involving New Hampshire schools.
Democratic Representative Richard Ames told his colleagues that wagering on sports is already happening. “Legal prohibition of sports betting has failed. House Bill 480 will bring sports betting out of the shadows, and provide appropriate rules of the road for all sports betting participants,” said Ames.
However, not everyone in the New Hampshire House agrees that legalizing sports betting is the right move.
“The key concern of the minority is that it continues and significantly expands the status quo of state reliance on potentially problematic sources of revenue through sin taxes, instead of taking on the more difficult task of redesigning the state tax structure,” said Republican Representative Jess Edwards.
Ames believes that legalizing sports betting and making it a regulated industry will help problem gamblers by establishing the Council for Responsible Gambling.
“Problem gambling is not a new phenomenon. Too many people participating now in legal and illegal gambling activities have been badly hurt by it,” said Ames. “Establishing this new Council for Responsible Gambling and bringing black-market sports betting out of the shadows into a place where help can be provided when needed means that we are at last going to get serious about this destructive addiction. Today, betting on sports events is categorically illegal in New Hampshire, but we all know that many people in New Hampshire and throughout the country are engaging in sports betting notwithstanding. The magnitude of this black market is staggering.”
The good news for the bill is that it has the backing of Governor Chris Sununu, who included $10 million of revenue in his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
The legislative session in New Hampshire will go until the end of June.