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The New Hampshire House and Senate have approved a sports betting bill that heads to Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk for his expected signature later this month.
The bill survived amendments added by the Senate in the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday as they approved the measure negating a final vote.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Rep Susan Almy surveyed committee members for their approval once she realized the committee supported the measure.
“Nobody thought there was anything that they changed that would require us to go to a committee of conference and renegotiate a couple of really small things,” Almy said.
Once the House committee approved the measure without changes, the bill proceeded to Gov. Sununu’s desk for signature.
The bill is targeting a start date of early March for a sportsbook to open in the state, with an eye on catching the wagering windfall provided by the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Details of the bill include a prohibition on betting on the state’s collegiate sports teams and college sporting events held in the state, but bettors will be able to bet on college sporting events elsewhere.
Also included in the fine print is a stipulation that mobile betting will be available at launch and bettors will be able to remotely register for an account.
Another interesting detail is that The New Hampshire Lottery will hold regulatory authority over sports betting in the state and a new Division of Sports Wagering will be created.
The Division of Sports Wagering will be under the shingle and authority of the Lottery Commission in the state.
Finally, all proceeds from sports betting will go into the state’s general education fund for boosting schools in New Hampshire.
After the approval of the bill, New Hampshire lawmakers were understandably excited to find a compromise for the long-awaited measure.
“This is good for everyone! Citizens (new consumer protections), businesses (new tourism opportunities) and the State (more revenue for education funding!),” wrote Rep. Timothy Lang in a statement.
Rep. Lang was the bill’s sponsor and the legislation is a major win for the Republican lawmaker.
With Rep. Lang, other legislators argued that the legislation was necessary to ultimately squash illegal gambling that is currently occurring in the state.
The passed measure left out the requirement of official league data to be used by sportsbooks for proposition bets and live-game betting.
Since the state does not have any professional teams within their boundaries, lawmakers felt like the fee was an unjust tax could stifle the growth of sports betting.
New Hampshire did become the second state in the New England area to legalize sports betting after Rhode Island’s adoption back in the summer of 2018.
The state will allow physical and mobile sportsbook locations in the bill but those locations will be limited possibly to five online locations and ten physical locations in New Hampshire.
Early estimates have revenue for the state pegged at $7.5 million in the 2021 fiscal year with an estimated $6 million of growth two years later in 2023.
In addition to the boost to the education fund, revenue to the state will also be set aside for the creation of a Council for Responsible Gambling to aid gamblers addicted to betting in the state.
After Gov. Sununu’s signs the bill there will be several months of preparing for the implementation of sports betting for New Hampshire, with the hope they are good to go in March of 2020.
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