Hope Spring Eternal for New Hampshire Casino Gamblers

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New Hampshire is another state that wants to take advantage of the revenue source afforded by casino gambling. Residents can stop worrying about new taxes as a result. Bills are pending prompting the usual debates. Supporters abound, however, including Senator Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, and former Governors Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, but for some reason, the latest have failed to pass the House.

Why the delay given the benefit of casino revenues in funding the state budget? A lot of work has gone down in flames in spite of the need for improved casino regulations. Even gambling addiction can be addressed in the new legislation. Hasson even created a commission to ensure all issues were covered. The issue may be dead, but hope springs eternal for New Hampshire.

Now the state is considering Senate Bill 310 that includes a provision for sports betting in two casinos. It comes in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision last year to allow betting on professional and amateur sports. The old law was deemed unconstitutional.

It hasn’t done well so far in the Senate Finance Committee and on the Senate floor. Only by tabling (recommended by D’Allesandro) it will it have another chance down the road. After all, Keno finally got approval in 2017 on a limited basis. No doubt it was due to the bill including a pre-school program. Since revenues from Keno were not as expected, Senate Bill 310 may still face considerable opposition.
It is a community by community decision but first sports betting must pass the House. Will New Hampshire jump on the band wagon that took off after the Supreme Court reversal. Governor Chris Sununu wants casino gambling revenues following the lead of Maggie Hassan. The figure of a possible $10 million is attractive indeed.

Support should be mustered given the restriction on betting to adults over 18 and the mandate to allow a third-party or the Lottery Commission to run sports betting. It would not allow high school and collegiate teams to be part of the process. Wagers would go through limited venues such as liquor and retail stores, and turnpike rest stops that maintain gaming consoles. State residents might see special lottery shops of the likes that populate Europe. Mobile betting would be available if done within the state.

The governor and the House believe a Council for Responsible Gambling will help the bill pass. It would be partially funded by gambling revenues. This will be easy if projected revenues of between $1.5 million to $7.5 million are met in year one. This will only grow, likely to hit as much as $13.5 million in the third year. It costs the state to run its gambling program and formerly illegal activity will be rerouted.

So far so good. The House Ways and Means Committee voted to recommend bill passage 17-2. According to Rep. Richard Ames, D-Jaffrey,

“Betting on sports events is currently illegal in the state, but we all know that many people in New Hampshire, and throughout the country, are engaging in sports betting notwithstanding its illegality. This bill will bring much of this activity to the surface where it will be legal and regulated.”

As expected, other committee members are concerned about addiction and insist that sports betting is a problematic source of revenue, or sin tax. But since the Supreme Court opened the doors, New Hampshire will have to let sports betting in with House Bill 480.

A version of this article first appeared at manchesterinklink.com

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