The chairman of the New Hampshire Senate’s Ways and Means Committee believes his state should join six others in regulating online gambling and is proposing to use a model similar to the one already being used to regulate mobile sports betting.
Under a 2019 state law, the New Hampshire Lottery technically serves as the operator of sports betting but was empowered to select up to five so-called agents to offer wagering on its behalf.
The lottery eventually chose DraftKings to offer mobile wagering and operate additional retail locations in the Granite State. The Boston-based company offered the state 51 percent of revenues in exchange for being the sole mobile sports-betting provider.
Senate Bill 104, co-sponsored by committee chairman Republican state Senator Tim Lang, has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee, which will hold a public hearing on the measure on Wednesday (January 25).
“The model proposed is similar to our sports gaming law,” Lang told VIXIO GamblingCompliance via email. “The New Hampshire Lottery will license, regulate, and administer the program.”
Currently, the bill does not include a proposed effective tax rate or guidelines on exactly how many gaming operators would be eligible to apply or be licensed as an agent of the New Hampshire Lottery.
The bill’s title simply states that its an act to regulate online gambling, and direct the next tax proceeds to a community college education scholarship fund.
Lang’s proposal would allow anyone 18 years of age or older within New Hampshire to play online or mobile slot machines and table games, while establishing a voluntary self-exclusion program and wager limits for daily, weekly and monthly amounts to address problem gambling.
The proposal allows accounts to be funded using debit cards, but not credit cards. Servers would seemingly have to be based within the state of New Hampshire, while any agents would be subject to review that they do not operate in international jurisdictions where online gaming is illegal.
“I am seeking to provide consumer protections to New Hampshire citizens from predatory offshore gaming operators, make sure responsible gaming provisions are enacted and in doing so, create a state revenue stream to make our two-year community colleges free to in-state students,” Lang said.
If the legislation is approved, New Hampshire would join Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Nevada has also approved interactive gaming, but only for online poker games.
Lawmakers are also considering an iGaming bill in Indiana with another proposal expected to be introduced within the coming days by Senator Joseph Addabbo, a Democrat, in New York.
Lang is a familiar name to New Hampshire’s gaming industry having been the primary sponsor of the 2019 bill that legalized sports betting.
Besides sports betting, legal gaming in New Hampshire includes retail and online lottery, keno, bingo and about 16 small casinos that must distribute 35 percent of their profits to charitable organizations.
In the current session, Lang has introduced several gaming bills, including Senate Bill 51 that would create a commission to study the impact of historical horseracing (HHR) on revenues for charities. The bill would also amend the moratorium on new HHR licenses.
Meanwhile, Senate Bill 19 increases the permitted number of game dates of bingo allowed by each licensee, while Senate Bill 20 simply eliminates the $500 fee associated with issuing keno licenses.
“It is the only lottery product sold in retail that we charge a license fee like this for,” said Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery, during a hearing last week on SB 20. “When we went to expand the retail network, they were quite happy about it until they found out it was a $500 bill associated with it.”
McIntyre said the license fee limited the expansion of the keno network state-wide.
“We sold $53m worth of keno tickets last year, which is a profitability of a little over $10m,” he said. “So a $500 license fee is not really material to our revenue.”
While the Senate Ways and Means Committee was able to unanimously pass SB 20 last week, committee members decided to hold onto SB 51 for further discussion.
“When we passed historic horseracing last term, we put a three-year moratorium on the licenses to see what was going to happen with this new form of gaming and how it was going to work,” Lang said. “We ran into a little snag, meaning that it took us forever to pass rules.”
The bill would extend that moratorium until January 1, 2026, and committee members even considered an amendment pushing that deadline to July 1, 2026, but were unable to come to a consensus on a timeline.
Under the state law, charitable gaming facilities that were licensed as of May 1, 2020 were eligible to offer HHR.
McIntyre said a total of seven operators are now offering HHR machines, with one more opening imminently. But he was not sure when all 14 locations that are eligible will open.