New Hampshire became the latest state to legalize sports betting this year after Gov. Chris Sununu signed into law a bill that authorizes the provision of retail and mobile betting on the territory of the state.
New Hampshire is the second state in the New England region to legalize gambling on sporting events after Rhode Island, which saw its two casinos – Twin River Lincoln and Twin River Tiverton – go live with wagering in late 2018.
A bill calling for the legalization of sports betting was introduced in the state House by Rep. Timothy Lang earlier this year. The piece gained the necessary legislative support in both houses of the state’s General Court and cleared on Friday its final hurdle – a signature by New Hampshire’s top official.
Gov. Sununu said that he was keen to place the first legal bet in the state when operators are finally ready to go live with sports betting.
Under Rep. Lang’s bill bettors will be able to place wagers on professional sports as well as most Division I college sports as long as games do not involve New Hampshire schools.
The piece of legislation allows for retail betting at 10 locations around the state. In addition, customers will be able to place wagers via their mobile devices. Lawmakers said Friday that it will take some time for interested businesses to set up their sports betting operations.
New Hampshire’s sports betting industry will be overseen by the state Lottery Commission. Wagering is projected to direct $7.5 million toward the state’s education trust in fiscal year 2021 and $13.5 million in 2023.
Commenting on the state legalizing sports betting, Gov. Sununu said that “we can do it with a lot of confidence because it’s being done responsibly” and that “it’s being done with an organization here at the lottery that just knows what they’re doing.”
The sports betting bill’s prime sponsor, Rep Lang, said that they are happy to be bringing “an illicit activity into the light for our citizens” and that the move is allowing for consumer protections.
Despite now being a law, the bill faced some opposition while being considered in the state Legislature. Betting sceptics argued that the legalization of the practice would only increase New Hampshire’s reliance on problematic revenue sources, referring to the so-called sin taxes the state is collecting from alcohol and cigarettes.
However, proponents pointed out that bringing illegal sports gambling to the surface will help the state provide support for problem gamblers through an organization that would focus on educating the people of New Hampshire as well as preventing and treating those that have fallen victims to problem gambling and gambling addiction.
Gov. Sununu signed the sports betting bill into law this past Friday at the headquarters of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. The state’s top official helped slice a cake that was decorated with dollar signs and noted that he insists on placing the first ceremonial bet when that becomes possible.
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