New England states might have many things in common, but sports betting isn’t one of them. In fact, the six states that make up this region all seem to be heading in different directions over the gaming industry.
New Hampshire and Rhode Island are enjoying millions of dollars in revenue while other states are dragging their feet like Massachusetts and Connecticut. Then there is Maine who just rejected a sports betting bill and Vermont who’s rushing to get online sports betting legalized.
Why Did Maine’s Governor Reject Sports Betting Bill?
Over the weekend, Maine created quite the buzz within the gaming industry as news circulated that Governor Janet Mills vetoed the proposed sports betting bill that had been sitting on hold since last summer.
Governor Mills believes that the potential harm of sports betting outweighs the potential revenue and she won’t approve a bill unless it adequately meets her vision of addressing problem gambling with at-risk populations. Mills is calling for state leaders to examine this topic further:
“Before Maine joins the frenzy of states hungry to attract this market, I believe we need to examine the issue more clearly; better understand the evolving experiences of other states; and thoughtfully determine the best approach for Maine. That approach needs to balance the desire to suppress gambling activities now being conducted illegally and the need to protect youthful gamblers and those least able to absorb losses under a closely regulated scheme.”
New Hampshire Enjoys Early Sports Betting Success
New Hampshire became the second state in New England to legalize sports betting as they joined Rhode Island in the gaming industry.
The New Hampshire Lottery, in conjunction with DraftKings, rolled out a sports betting app and mobile betting platform on December 30th, 2019, and is already enjoying a great turnout in the opening weeks of 2020. Governor Sununu declared that sports betting was “the right bet” for his state:
“Early returns show that sports betting was absolutely the right bet for New Hampshire to make. With over $3.44 million already wagered here in the Granite State, and with revenues benefitting our state’s education system, this is already proving to be a big win. The demand is there and New Hampshire is happy to serve as the region’s go-to destination for sports betting.”
The numbers are expected to significantly rise throughout the month of January as we get closer to the Super Bowl, which is one of the most popular events for wagering on sports.
Rhode Island Sees Rise in Monthly Numbers, but Drops Fiscal Projection
Within the last few days, Rhode Island Lottery released their gaming numbers for November 2019. The state saw an uptick as gamblers wagered a total of $31.5 million dollars in November, which was roughly $3.2 million dollars more than October. Gamblers lost an estimated $2.8 million dollars in November.
Although there was an increase in month to month revenue, the state slashed their expectations of how much money they would make in the 2020 fiscal year. Initial projections estimated $22 million, but that has been slashed to a project of $9.4 million.
Vermont Going for Online Sports Betting Only
Motivated by New Hampshire’s early success, Vermont has joined in on the list of states wanting to legalize sports gambling this year as state leaders filed a brand-new mobile-only sports betting bill this week.
Senators Michael Sirotkin and Dick Sears filed Bill S213, which was referred to the Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee. Under S213, the state would allow for mobile sports betting, to be under the regulation of the state’s Board of Liquor and Lottery.
Vermont has no physical casinos, so the state would offer only online or mobile sports wagering with no actual retail locations. This isn’t as scary as it sounds, though, since over 85% of New Jersey’s sports gambling handle takes place over the Internet.
What’s in the Bill?
Under the proposal, Green Mountain State residents and visitors would be permitted to bet on both collegiate and professional sports. Most of the details within the bill indicate an industry-friendly setup when it comes to regulations:
License fees of $10,000 for both operators and suppliers
10% tax on daily fantasy sports revenues instead of the current $5,000 fee
10% tax on gross sports revenues, to be paid monthly
Betting will be overseen by the Vermont Board of Liquor and Lottery
No stated limits on skins/licenses for online and mobile sports gambling brands
If an operator loses money any one month, the losses can be used to offset future tax payments
Operators may lay off bets as long as both parties are transparent
If the bill is passed, Vermont could have legal sports betting by mid-2020.
Massachusetts and Connecticut Still Circling the Drain
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has been very proactive in trying to get all parties on board to legalize sports betting. Unfortunately, state tribes and various lawmakers can’t seem to get on the same page.
Instead of joining the likes of Rhode Island and New Hampshire, Connecticut continues to stall out before any real momentum can be gained.
Although things appear dysfunctional at best for Connecticut, they’re even worse in nearby Massachusetts as many state leaders are now giving up hope on seeing sports betting legalized in 2020.
It appears that members of both political parties can’t agree on a timeframe or certain vital details in the construction of a sports betting bill.
With Massachusetts on the sidelines, New Hampshire and Rhode Island will compete for the large Boston market until the state passes legislation.
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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