As of the beginning of the week, New Hampshire got halfway closer to legal sports gambling with the House’s approval of a bill that will allow for mobile and in-person sports betting at a variety of locations. This is a big step for the state and for the Governor who is counting on revenue from sports betting in his budget proposal and for improving education within the state.
New Hampshire House Bill 480, a proposal from Representative Timothy Lang, is a bill that will authorize full-scale sports betting in the state. After debate, legislators voted 269-82 to pass its amended version on to the Senate. The bill has the support of Governor Chris Sununu, who has included associated revenue of $10 million in his proposed budget for the upcoming year.
HB 480 is very similar to that of Rhode Island’s sports betting legislation. Under NH’s terms, the Lottery Commission would administer sports betting at both online and mobile platforms as well as at brick-and-mortar retail locations.
Amendments made to the bill before the vote went ahead include:
Retail sportsbook operations would require approval from local voters, but mobile betting would go ahead without voter approval.
Supporters of legal sports betting say that the activity will bring illegal sports gambling into legitimacy and legalization will also provide people with gambling problems the support, education, prevention, and treatment they need. Representative Richard Ames (D-Jaffrey) expressed these thoughts in public support of bill HB 480:
“Problem gambling is not a new phenomenon. Too many people participating now in legal and illegal gambling activities have been badly hurt by it. Establishing this new Council for Responsible Gambling and bringing black-market sports betting out of the shadows into a place where help can be provided when needed means that we are at last going to get serious about this destructive addiction.”
Opponents say that sports betting would only make the state rely on “problematic revenue sources” and the new council on problem gambling would be even more of a strain on the state’s already overworked and insufficient mental health support programming. Before the House members voted, Representative Jesse Edwards (R-Auburn) cautioned his constituents of HB 480:
“This is a major bill, and we’re going to be living with its consequences for decades. I just want you to vote with your eyes open because there’s going to be some downsides.”
With the House approving this bill, the Senate will be next to vote on it. Even if there are some dissenters in the Senate, it’s a good bet that bill HB 480 will pass. The House and the Governor both want this bill to apps. If all goes well, New Hampshire could see legal sports betting later this year or by 2020 at the latest.
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