Add Concord and Berlin to the list of cities in New Hampshire that will let voters decide this November whether to allow one of the possible 10 retail sportsbooks that might open up across the state early next year within those places’ city limits.
Gov. Chris Sununu signed House Bill 480 into law on July 12. The landmark bill legalized sports betting in New Hampshire and is expected to bring in $10 million for education funding during its first full year.
H.B. 480 legalized bets on professional sports and most Division I college sports for bettors 18 years old and older, though it also stipulated that local cities and towns were required to let voters approve whether a retail betting venue would open within its borders.
Moreover, no more than 10 retail sportsbooks will open in the Granite State under the existing law, so the city vote is only to approve its candidacy for hosting one.
Concord and Berlin are the two latest cities in New Hampshire to move forward with seeking the necessary voter approvals on hosting sportsbooks. Dover was the first city in the state to express interest in having a retail sportsbook over the summer, and more cities might potentially do the same as the upcoming election cycle ramps up.
Concord might be the most attractive city to express at least some interest in hosting a retail sportsbook. It’s the third-largest city in New Hampshire and features numerous restaurants, lottery outlets, hotels, and other entertainment-based establishments that could aptly supply support to betting customers.
Moreover, Concord is just a 15-minute drive from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway where NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series races occur every season. It’s no wonder local lawmakers were keen on putting the city’s opportunity to host one of New Hampshire’s future retail sportsbook locations to a vote in November.
Additionally, the ballot in Concord will allow voters to decide on the state’s so-called “Keno-garten” program. The question voters face is whether to allow the popular lottery game, Keno 603, in restaurants and bars to help raise money for full-day kindergarten programs in the state.
While all cities in the state receive the educational funds generated from its state-wide Keno program, local businesses in places that had previously voted against the program such as Concord miss out on the related financial rewards that come from hosting Keno while also limiting the overall amount generated for the program in general.
The town of Berlin, in Coös County, is the northernmost city in New Hampshire with a population of just over 10,000. It's not as big of a market as Concord, but Berlin voters will also decide this November whether the city wants to host one of the retail sportsbook locations.
Berlin does have a history of approving similar programs. Residents already approved the Keno program in November 2017, so it's not a stretch to assume they might do the same for another gambling-related program.
This year’s elections will occur across the U.S. on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Concord and Berlin are simply the latest cities to add a sportsbook to the ballot. The New Hampshire Union Leader reported the full list of cities is Manchester, Nashua, Laconia, Franklin, Dover, Concord, and Berlin.
There are an additional three cities that are putting serious consideration into putting sportsbooks on the ballot: Claremont, Portsmouth, and Somersworth. Should those three cities add it to November's elections, that would make 10 cities, matching the maximum number of sportsbooks allowed by state law.