Concord to vote on sports betting: What you need to know

  • FILE - In this June 28, 2018, file photo, a sign advertising sports betting is displayed at Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA think that expanding legal betting will lead to more game-fixing. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) Seth Wenig

  • This March 8, 2019 photo shows a wall of video screens in the sports betting lounge at the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City N.J. On May 8, 2019, Fox Sports announced it is buying nearly 5 percent of The Stars Group, the parent company of PokerStars, and that the two companies will offer sports betting in the fall in the U.S. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry) Wayne Parry

Monitor staff
Published: 11/4/2019 5:06:55 PM

Tucked onto the Concord city ballot Tuesday is a yes or no question with some curious phrasing.

“Shall we allow the operation of sports book retail locations within the city?”

The same mandatory language tripped up more than one Franklin voter when it was posed – and approved – in that city last month.

This question is about sports betting – more specifically whether Concord should allow the creation of a physical location to walk in and place a wager.

Under House Bill 480, which was championed and signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu in July, New Hampshire will soon have legalized mobile sports betting across the state – before the end of the NFL season, Sununu has promised.

But cities and towns may also allow for a physical location to carry out sports betting – known as a “sports book retail location.”

In Concord and eight other cities, that question will be up to the voters Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know.

How does the system work?

The sports betting law creates several distinct ways to carry out sports bets: at physical “sports betting retail locations,” at convenience stores or places where Lottery tickets are sold, or via mobile betting.

All of the systems will be overseen by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission through the “sports book.” That commission, in turn, contracts out the actual operation of the online and retail systems; last week, the state announced it was entering into contract negotiations with DraftKings and Intralot to provide those services. It’s worth noting Concord Mayor Jim Bouley is a registered lobbyist for Intralot and was paid $112,500 so far this year.

The state contracts with DraftKings and Intralot must still be approved by the state’s Executive Council.

But before the retail locations open in the state, towns and cities must vote to authorize them. And that’s what voters are deciding Tuesday.

Who gets to place bets?

In all three systems, anyone 18 or older may place a bet. For online services, the person must be physically in New Hampshire to place a bet.

There are some people prohibited from placing a bet: commissioners of the Lottery Commission or immediate family members; employees of the agents running the sports books; the players, teams, referees and other officials associated with the games being bet on; and anyone acting as a proxy for any of the above.

What types of sports are covered?

Wagers can be made on any portion of a sports game event, or on individual performance statistics. That includes “single game bets, teaser bets, parlays, over-under bets, money line bets, pools, exchange wagering, in game wagering, in-play bets, proposition bets, and straight bets,” according to the law.

But the law does not allow betting on any collegiate sports events involving teams from New Hampshire colleges, or college games that are played in New Hampshire; and any high school sports games at all.

What kinds of security would a retail facility need to have?

The statute requires that any retail facility approved by a municipality and the Commission fulfill a number of requirements, including surveillance plans, employment background checks, and procedures to mitigate fraud and suspicious betting activities.

The companies running the wagering also must have a list of house rules for how to calculate wagers, notify winners, handle errors, and more. And there are accounting requirements.

Does voting ‘yes’ mean sports betting will come here?

Probably, but not necessarily. Even if voters do approve sports betting locations in Concord, they aren’t guaranteed.

New Hampshire’s sports betting law allows the state Lottery Commission to approve up to 10 locations in the state. But the Commission gets final say over where they can appear, depending on how the towns vote.

Concord also gets a say. Any specific plans to develop would have to go through standard zoning board approval processes and obtain permitting.

How the physical locations will look is itself an open question. The commission “cannot predict” whether the locations will be in conjunction with other businesses or stand-alone, according to a letter from the Concord city solicitor.

How much money will this bring in to the state?

That part is less clear. The law does not itself specify what percentage of wins must go to the state – that’s all up to the vendors as part of the bidding process.

But the leading bidder for mobile and retail betting, DraftKings, has offered 50% of its gross gaming revenue to go to the state, and New Hampshire officials are currently negotiating the final terms of that proposed contract.

For the lottery-style sports bets, Intralot, the leading bidder in that category, has offered 19.25% of revenues to go to the state.

What happens if Concord votes no?

If Concord and other cities reject giving the Lottery Commission the authority to facilitate a retail sports betting location, it does not mean that sports betting is banned completely.

For one, anyone with an Internet-activated phone will soon be able to place sports bets in Concord – from any bar.

In addition, the Lottery has other games to allow sports betting, which will soon be available at any convenience store, grocery store, or establishment where state lottery tickets are sold, whether or not Concord votes yes on retail, according to Maura McCann, director of Marketing at the Lottery Commission.

Whether Concord voters go for the whole package on Tuesday is anyone’s bet.

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