New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed the state’s sports betting bill into law on Friday, finalizing a legislative effort that seemed all but assured after it was overwhelmingly approved by the General Court in June.
HB480 authorizes legal wagers on professional sports and a vast portion of Division I college sports, excluding college programs that are in New Hampshire, notably Dartmouth and the University of New Hampshire.
On March 24, the New Hampshire House approved legislation which would allow the state lottery commission authority to control sports betting in the state. It moved relatively quickly by the lengthy standards of most legislation after introduction in January, and was taken up by the Senate shortly after it passed the House.
After the Senate spent several weeks evaluating, and later passing, the bill, the two chambers quickly hammered out minor discrepancies between the two proposals and set it to Sununu’s desk. New Hampshire joins Rhode Island as New England states which feature legalized sports gambling.
New Hampshire joins the growing list of states to legalize sports betting since May 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the decades-long federal ban on the industry outside of Nevada.
Operators will still need to pass final regulatory approval, meaning sports betting is not legal today, but these moves should be finalized before the end of the year in a best-case scenario. If not, sports betting is projected to be fully operational sometime in 2020.
According to the Associated Press, it is estimated that the industry will generate $7.5 million in tax revenue for the 2021 fiscal year and $13.5 million two years later, once the industry has matured.
With HB480 now officially under law in New Hampshire, it allows the regulation of sports wagering through mobile devices and in-person in the state. The bill reached new revenue potential once lawmakers inserted a mobile component, which has been critical in New Jersey’s success as the highest-grossing sports betting market in the country.
More than 80 percent of the $3 billion wagered in New Jersey has come from mobile devices, and a similar proportion of New Hampshire bettors are expected to use online offerings as well.
According to the Concord Monitor, supporters of HB480 argue that regulated, legal sports gambling in the state will increase funding for the state education system and provide consumer protection lacking in the illegal, offshore market. But opponents argue that problem gamblers will face more temptation in a legal market, increasing problems for some New Hampshire residents.
There are no casinos in place in New Hampshire yet, though the Senate voted on a bill to let two casinos operate in state territory. It passed with a narrow 13-11 margin this year, but was indefinitely postponed in the House.
With casinos unlikely for several more years, the online provisions will be even more important. The state lottery can subcontract up to five separate online operators licenses, or “skins.” The bill also permits up to 10 physical sportsbooks in the state.