New Hampshire lawmakers are betting big on the positive impact that legalized sports betting will have on their state.
Perhaps sparked by the success of nearby New England-area states that have already implemented legalized sports betting, the state is now on the verge of passing its own state legislation to do the same.
New Hampshire’s House of Representatives voted Thursday to accept Senate-lead changes to a bill that would legalize sports betting on professional sports and most college athletic events. The bill is now headed to Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.
New Hampshire’s sports betting bill would legalize both mobile and retail sports gambling. The associated regulatory system is set to be in place early next year, and the projections for the bill’s fiscal impact include an estimated $7.5 million earmarked for education in 2021 and $13.5 million in 2023. That’s big news for a state looking for innovative ways to increase revenue in support of government-funded programs.
Once the bill is signed into law, New Hampshire will be included in what amounts to be the 2019 wave of states in the U.S. who decided to legalize sports gambling after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports gambling in May 2018. New Hampshire will join Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana and Tennessee on the growing list of states that have approved legal sports wagering bills during the 2019 legislative sessions.
While it has been a bit of an uphill battle, it ultimately appears that lawmakers in New Hampshire agreed with proponents of HB480, the name of the bill that’s set to be signed to legalize sports gambling.
HB480 would allow both land-based and mobile wagering options for bettors in New Hampshire. The state’s Lottery Commission will establish a Division of Sports Wagering for oversight and support as part of the legislation.
Supporters of the bill long argued that legalization was important because it would simultaneously bring to light to what is otherwise a black market activity while also providing financial support for programs dedicated to helping problem gamblers and gambling addicts.
HB480 also includes the institution of a new Council for Responsible Gaming that will address gambling addiction issues as well as require agents to post information about potentially addictive behavior.
Opponents of the measure argued the state already had an addiction and mental health problem on its hands to begin with and that the forecasted increase in sports wagering could put even more strain on the state’s mental health workforce.
Other legislators expressed concern that the state was relying too much on these types of quick-fix revenue ideas to fill gaps in state budgets instead of solving shortfalls in a more sustainable way.
Regardless, Gov. Sununu is a supporter of the bill, so it appears New Hampshire bettors will indeed have safe and legal betting options beginning in 2020 within its own borders.