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As opposed to many other states, the question involving legalizing sports wagering in New Hampshire is not “if” but really now “how much and how many different ways”.
Representative Tim Lang of New Hampshire was the architect of a plan beginning in early 2019 that would capitalize on the maximum potential for sports betting in the state.
New Hampshire became the 14th state to launch legal sports betting in December of 2019. Gov. Chris Sununu (R), a supporter of gambling and sports wagering, placed the first wager through his mobile device.
Updating two years later Lang has submitted a new one-page bill that would eliminate the number of retail sportsbooks and legalize what is known as Tier II (in-play wagering) at all retail locations. The changes will make good on what he envisioned and complete the promise he made to his Democratic party about the full potential for sports wagering in New Hampshire.
In the recent national election in November, New Hampshire was the only state in which both the House and the Senate changed over from Democratic majorities to Republican. With Gov. Chris Sununu at the helm, the Republicans now control all three government arms.
This is the second time Lang has attempted to push this legislative change through. But prior to the changeover, many Democrat leaders believed that opening the door to more locations would lead to a surge in gambling throughout the state and increase problem gambling.
Representative Lang’s Bill 330 would amend the current law in the state to allow for live in-game sports betting to take place at retail sports wagering venues. The current law allows for Tier II wagering online/mobile, but not at physical sportsbooks, which limits the wagering options available to patrons.
House Bill 330 requests a cap of ten sports betting establishments to allow for more land-based operators in the state. There are only two in current operation.
With a total state population of only 1.5 million, Lang believes it is very unlikely that New Hampshire will ever have more than ten sportsbooks in operation. In comparison, Pennsylvania has a population of 12.8 people with 13 onsite books available for bettors.
The Brook became the first retail location to offer sports wagering in August 2020. DraftKings Sportsbook went live with online/mobile wagering in December 2019 and has been the dominant force in the New Hampshire market.
Any person aged 18 or older located within New Hampshire can create a DraftKings Sportsbook account online and place a bet. In-game wagering is also available on the internet, but not available at the state’s current two retail sportsbooks.
Two charitable casinos in New Hampshire — The Brook in Seabrook and Filotimo Casino & Restaurant in Manchester are both affiliated with DraftKings Sportsbook. These brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and wagering kiosks do not offer live in-game odds.
Lang believes these changes need to be made to maximize the potential of the state and echo the success other US states have achieved. He said:
It makes zero sense. I could literally be sitting in the casino, where I could place a bet before the game started. But once the game started, I would have to take out my phone to place another bet.
Possibly without realizing it, the New Hampshire Lottery awarded DraftKings Sportsbook a virtual monopoly. They pay the state a large 51% gross gaming revenue (GGR) for that exclusivity right.
The introduction of Bill 330 likely has to do with a new market offering from the lottery named Sports 603, named after the state’s area code. It is unclear what plans the New Hampshire Lottery has for that but when it is running will be available at all NH lottery vendors.
As for other New England state “competition”, Maine and Vermont do not currently offer sports wagering. Discussions are underway for both Connecticut and Massachusetts to potentially begin sometime later in 2021. Although not geographically quite close, New York would be the largest factor. Gov. Cuomo has changed his policy toward introducing sports wagering and online gambling to bring back lost revenue opportunities from nearby New Jersey.
By the numbers, December was a record month for New Hampshire with $51.6 million in wagering handle. It was no surprise that online took most of the action with $43.7 million or 84.5% of the handle.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
Email: [email protected]
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