New Hampshire Sports Betting Legislation Clears House

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A bill calling for the legalization of sports betting has gained momentum in New Hampshire and if it survives through all legislative hurdles, it will bring both retail and mobile wagering to state residents.

The New Hampshire House supported overwhelmingly last week the piece of legislation, HB 480, casting a 269-82 vote in favor of authorizing the practice on the territory of the state. The bill now needs to get approved in the Senate and be signed off by Gov. Chris Sununu. A signature by New Hampshire’s top official is not expected to prove a hurdle as he said during his budget address last month that legal sports betting was something he supported.

The bill would authorize both retail and digital betting on the territory of the state. The retail portion of the piece would provide towns with the option to develop brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at existing commercial businesses, including bars and resorts. Under the bill, up to 10 facilities could be developed across New Hampshire.

The mobile component is expected to be a real booster of growth in the state’s regulated market. According to early projections, wagering operations could generate between $1.5 million and $7.5 million in fiscal year 2021. The money would go into New Hampshire’s education trust. The bill’s authors believe that contributions to the education trust could hike to $13.5 million by fiscal year 2023.

Gambling Addiction Concerns

Sports betting sceptics have voiced concerns that bringing the practice would balloon problem gambling rates in the state. However, the bill’s sponsors have maintained that the piece would provide an improved level of consumer protection as opposed to the thriving illegal wagering market.

Under HB 480, a 10% portion of sports betting revenue will be allocated for services supporting treatment and prevention of gambling addiction.

Commenting on the topic, Daniel Wallach, an attorney at a law firm that focuses on sports gambling legalization and regulation, said last week that there were few other states that “mandate a percentage of tax revenue to go to help problem gamblers.” He added that there were no “compulsive gambling safeguards” with offshore betting websites or in the black market.

If New Hampshire legalizes sports betting soon, it could become the second state in the New England region to go live with the practice. Rhode Island was the first state in that part of the nation to regulate the activity. Legal sports betting services went live at Rhode Island’s two casinos late last year. Under HB 480, local bettors would be able to place wagers on both professional and college games as long as those do not involve local teams.