The pandemic looks to increase New Hampshire’s take from sports betting

  • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu places the first legal sports wagering bet on his mobile phone for the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl at a sports bar in Manchester, N.H., Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. New Hampshire, who partnered with DraftKings, is the second New England state to approve sports wagering. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • FILE - In this May 2, 2019, file photo, the DraftKings logo is displayed at the sports betting company headquarters in Boston. Sports daily fantasy and betting website DraftKings will debut as a publicly traded company Friday, April 24, 2020, against a backdrop of a near-complete shutdown of athletic competition across the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File) Charles Krupa

Monitor staff
Published: 11/13/2020 11:02:16 AM

The pandemic has clobbered the world of pro sports just as it has clobbered every other activity, but its effect on New Hampshire’s income from sports betting may not be too bad. In fact, it might not be bad at all.

When sports betting became legal in New Hampshire at end of 2019, before we realized what COVID-19 would do, officials said they hoped that it would generate $7.5 million for education in Fiscal Year 2021, which runs from July 2020 through June 2021.  What do they say now?

“While it is difficult to make projections given the overall circumstances, the New Hampshire Lottery is anticipating sports betting will generate about $10 million in total net profits for education in Fiscal Year 2021, assuming the sports world remains active and we avoid another shutdown,” wrote Maura McCann, director of marketing for New Hampshire Lottery, in response to a Monitor query.

That prediction comes even though sports ground to a halt in March with the global shutdown as COVID-19 spread, leaving sports fans with almost nothing to bet on, followed by shortened and unusual seasons for virtually all sporting leagues since play resumed in summer.

But if the state’s optimistic prediction sounds surprising, it echoes what everybody else is seeing following the 2018 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized sports betting throughout the country. Fans of gambling, and especially sports betting, aren’t slowing down: The American Gaming Association says Americans wagered $2.1 billion on sports bets in August, a record for any month.

The private firm DraftKings, which won a six-year contract from New Hampshire to operate the system, launched mobile sports betting in New Hampshire at the end of 2019. Since then, New Hampshire Lottery says, 52,000 people have signed up and spent more than $200 million on bets. Two physical locations have also opened, one each in Manchester and Seabrook.

Under the contract, New Hampshire receives 50% of sports betting revenue, which is dedicated to education as is the case with profits from lottery sales.

McMann said New Hampshire received “just shy of $2.4 million” from June, and another $2.2 million in the first quarter of this fiscal year, covering July, August and September.

If that total of $4.6 million for New Hampshire represents half of the profits from $200 million in bets, it implies that DraftKings has an overall return of about 4.5%, with half going to New Hampshire. In other words, for every $100 that is bet in the state, education gets about $2.25. 

If that holds true, another $345 million in bets will have to be made in New Hampshire over the last nine months of this fiscal year in order for New Hampshire to receive the projected $10 million in total receipts. That’s $255 worth of bets for every man, woman and child in the state.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

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