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The Granite State has moved closer to passing legislation that will allow New Hampshire citizens to bet legally on sports as the state’s House voted through a bill that would enable the state’s lottery commission to regulate the sports gambling industry inside the state.
By a vote of 269-82, the New Hampshire House moved Bill 480 onto the Senate for approval. The state’s Governor Chris Sununu has hinted that he will sign the bill into law if it makes it to his desk.
Supporters of House Bill 480 claim that by legalizing sports betting, the state’s education system will see a much needed boost in funding. The bill also provides consumer protection for disputed wagers, something illegal markets do not provide to bettors.
“If you think about a bracket pool, or Super Bowl squares, those are essentially lottery products,” State Lottery Commissioner Charles McIntyre said. “Now that they’ll be regulated, they’ll be transparent, outside the shadows, everybody will get a fair product. Illegal conduct doesn’t have that level of consumer protection.”
Estimates believe that between $1.5 million and $7.5 million will be generated for the state in the year 2021. The bill’s sponsors think that within two years, the state could see a windfall that brings the education fund close to $13.5 million per year.
Education activist Andru Volinksy disputes the figures thrown out by bill proponents.
“The lottery is a sham,” Volinsky told seacoastonline.com. “It’s not nothing, 2.5 percent, but the commercials will lead you to believe all of our education expenses are taking care of by the lottery. That is deliberately intended to deceive the public.”
A primary concern for lawmakers that is addressed in the bill is the health of gambler. The law sets certain provisions for education and counseling for gamblers are or become addicted.
One section of the bill creates a program that gamblers can utilize to receive education, treatment if they are addicted and preventive measures that allows them to stop reckless gambling before it starts.
“Too many people participating now in legal and illegal gambling activities have been badly hurt by it,” said Rep. Richard Ames, D-Jaffrey. “Establishing this new (program) means that we are at last going to get serious about this destructive addiction.”
The next step for House Bill 480 is a vote in the senate where the measure is expected to pass.
What’s unique about the bill is that most professional and college games will be available for New Hampshire citizens to bet on with the lone exception of any sporting event involving the state’s colleges.
Passage of the bill would allow mobile wagering, as long as the bettor is inside the state’s boundaries, and physical betting at ten locations.
With Rhode Island recently approving mobile sports gambling within the state’s boundaries, there is pressure by states in the Northeast to hurry legislation through to approve gambling.
If New Hampshire’s senate approves the bill and Gov. Sununu signs the measure, then the state will be the first to approve sports betting in 2019.
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