Sununu signs sports betting bill

Monitor staff
Published: 7/12/2019 8:38:03 AM

Gov. Chris Sununu officially made sports betting legal in the state on Friday, signing off on a bill that gives authority to the New Hampshire Lottery Commission to regulate the industry.

But Granite Staters will have to wait a while longer before placing their first wagers. The Lottery Commission is aiming to have sports betting established during the first half of 2020.

Companies interested in opening sportsbooks in the state – whether it be a physical venue or mobile betting – will go through an RFP process over the next few months, said Jeff Mucciarone of Montagne Communications, the firm handling public relations for the commission. No companies have been licensed as of yet.

The legislation also allows the commission to “conduct some limited sports betting games,” and it creates a Division for Sports Wagering within the Lottery Commission that will oversee sports betting operations in the state.

New Hampshire now joins a growing list of states that have legalized the sports betting industry as it sweeps across the country.

During his remarks at Friday’s event, Sununu said the additional revenue from sports betting will add to the Lottery’s contributions to the state’s education system.

“With the exciting new addition of sports betting, the New Hampshire Lottery will continue to drive critical revenue, putting even more money into our educational system,” Sununu said. “Today’s action will provide financial support and important resources to help our public education system, which will benefit every child in every school across the state – a win for New Hampshire.”

Lawmakers backing the bill estimate 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 estimate by 2023 revenue could be as high as $13.5 million going into the education trust.

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. This measure was included by lawmakers in hopes of preventing outside influences on a game’s outcome.

Gaming will be restricted to players age 18 or older.

The legislation opens the door for both mobile and retail sports betting.

Officials expect mobile sports betting – where a player places their wage using a sportsbooks’ mobile app – to generate the most revenue.

The retail side of the law gives municipalities the authority to approve betting lounges where players can go to place a bet and watch the game. It also allows a retail sports book to be co-located with another commercial business, such as a bar or resort. The bill allows up to 10 sports betting facilities in the state.

During Friday’s ceremony, the Lottery Commission announced it generated more than $384.2 million in total sales in fiscal year 2019, an all-time record for New Hampshire, of which $100.7 million will be put toward the state’s education system. The commission said this marks a 15.4% increase – or $13.5 million – year-over-year in education aid, according to unaudited figures.

(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3321, or on Twitter @NickStoico.)

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