Mobile sports betting to begin in N.H. next week

  • 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. The architects of New Jersey’s successful legal challenge to the sports gambling ban say those fears are overstated and that bringing sports betting out of the shadows will make it easier to detect illegal activity. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) Seth Wenig

  • In this Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 photo, employees work at the DraftKings office in Boston. DraftKings created a new single-game contest for the Super Bowl so the daily fantasy sports company wouldn't get left out of the biggest game around. By next year's NFL championship, the company hopes to be a fan favorite in another endeavor: legalized sports betting. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

Published: 12/24/2019 2:51:58 PM

New Hampshire will join Rhode Island next week as the second state in New England to allow sports betting.

The betting company DraftKings announced it will launch New Hampshire’s mobile betting product months ahead of schedule on Dec. 30. Anyone physically in New Hampshire who is over the age of 21 and has downloaded the app will be able to place bets on professional sports online.

Gov. Chris Sununu, who signed the legislation into law in July, has been counting on extra revenue to the state’s education system from the program. He is expected to place the state’s first online bet.

Backers of the bill estimated revenue between $1.5 million and $7.5 million in fiscal year 2021 that would then go into the state’s education trust. The bill’s sponsors estimated revenue as high as $13.5 million by 2023.

The new law earmarks 10% of revenue drawn from sports betting for services to support treatment and prevention of gambling addiction in the state.

The law specifically prohibits players from betting on college games involving New Hampshire schools, such as Dartmouth and the University of New Hampshire, or any college games being played in the Granite State.

All other professional and college events will be fair game.

The bill that passed the Legislature created a Division for Sports Wagering within the Lottery Commission that will oversee sports betting operations in the state.

The Lottery Commission approved a six-year sports-betting contract with DraftKings in November. The company will pay the lottery 51% of gross gaming revenue for mobile and 50% of gross gaming revenue from retail locations.

Cities and towns in the state have the option to approve retail betting lounges where people can watch games and place bets. These “sports book” locations could be co-located with another commercial business, such as a bar or resort.

In November, the cities of Berlin, Claremont, Laconia, Manchester and Somersworth voted to permit the operation of sports book retail locations. The city of Franklin was the first to approve them a month earlier. Towns will be able to take up the question at annual meetings in the spring.

At a forum on sports betting at the UNH School of Law in March, some advocates said New Hampshire’s new law was novel in the way it addressed the public health concerns around gambling.

“Not that many other states mandate a percentage of tax revenues to go to help problem gamblers,” said Daniel Wallach, an attorney whose law firm focuses on sports wagering and gaming law. “There are all sorts of programs that cost money that are assisted through this mandate. There are no compulsive-gambling safeguards in the black market or with offshore sites.” 

Rhode Island became the first state in the region to allow sports betting in November 2018. The state launched its mobile betting application in September.

Sports betting comes to New Hampshire just as DraftKings plans to merge with two other firms and go public, according to an announcement from the Boston-based company.

DraftKings said it will complete its merger with gambling tech firm SBTech and acquisition company Diamond Eagle Acquisition sometime in the first half of 2020.

DraftKings said the combined company will be valued at $3.3 billion, and it will have $500 million on hand once the deal is complete.

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