Gov. Chris Sununu signed the sports betting law into place on Friday, making New Hampshire the latest state to get in on the fun. Now, residents can bet on professional sports and the majority of Division I college athletics, excluding ones that involve a New Hampshire school in the competition – such as the University of New Hampshire or Dartmouth.
“The only rule is, I want to place the first bet,” said Sununu.
The New Hampshire State Lottery Commission will be regulating the sports betting, overseeing both the online and retail locations.
“We can do it with a lot of confidence because it’s being done responsibly, and being done with an organization here at the lottery that just knows what they’re doing,” Sununu said. “They know how to get this stuff off the ground.”
There will be 10 retail betting locations and mobile betting, which has been the main catalyst for profits in most other states. It will, however, take a little bit of time to get everything up and running in the state. Unlike many of the states that have sports betting already approved, New Hampshire does not have casinos that could serve as brick-and-mortar locations.
The current law allows the state to have no more than five online sportsbooks and up 10 retail locations. These retail sportsbooks can only be located in towns that pass a local-option referendum that will allow them.
Lottery officials will begin developing a solicitation by the end of 2019, and the first bet could be taken by next July.
An estimated $7.5 million is expected to be raised by sports betting in the fiscal year for 2021 and could rise up to $13.5 million in the following year.
“Sports betting is the right bet for New Hampshire,” said Sununu. “With the exciting new addition of sports betting, the New Hampshire Lottery will continue to drive critical revenue, putting even more money into our educational system.
“Today’s action will provide financial support and important resources to help our public education system, which will benefit every child in every school across the state – a win for New Hampshire.”
Sports betting will always have some type of pushback, and New Hampshire is no different. Opposing members argued sports betting would push the state’s need to rely on problematic revenue sources like alcohol and cigarettes, also known as the “sin taxes.”
Supporters, on the other hand, argued that legalizing sports betting will bring a black-market activity out in the open and provide support for problematic gamblers through a new organization that would focus on the education, prevention, and treatment for those to get the help they need.
“I’m happy we’re bringing an illicit activity into the light for our citizens of New Hampshire and allowing for some consumer protections,” said Rep. Timothy Lang, R-Sanbornton, the main sponsor of the bill. Lang said it would be a huge win for New Hampshire residents, communities, the state, and public education.
In terms of size, New Hampshire is the second-smallest state to adopt sports betting.