The New Hampshire Senate Ways and Means Committee has approved an amended bill to legalize sports betting, with the legislation now passing to the Finance Committee to work out start-up costs for legal wagering in the state.
House Bill 480 was passed with a number of amendments, most notably expanding the range of bet types permitted in retail betting facilities and setting a cap on the number of entities that may offer mobile wagering.
The bill, introduced by Representative Timothy Lang, would allow consumers to place bets at various retail locations across the state, as well as via online and mobile platforms. The New Hampshire Lottery Commission would be responsible for regulating the market.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee has amended the bill to clarify that wagers on collegiate sports tournaments in which New Hampshire college teams participates are not prohibited. Furthermore, wagers on such tournament games will be permitted provided the wager is based on the final tournament result.
The prohibition on wagers on New Hampshire collegiate teams, and collegiate events taking place in the state, remains in place, however.
The Committee amendments also allow towns and cities to hold public votes on whether to allow sports wagering, and establish a Council for Responsible Gambling in the state. This would be a five-person board, appointed by the state Governor and executive council, who are qualified either in he field of addiction or mental health services.
In addition, amendments from the Senate floor, filed by Senator Bob Guida, establish that up to five mobile sports betting agents would be allowed to operate in the state at any time. All approved entities must submit a comprehensive responsible wagering strategy as part of their application process.
Guida is also understood to be set to propose a second amendment, which would allow retail sportsbooks to offer Tier II bets, or in-play wagering. Currently retail establishments may only offer Tier I (pre-match) and III (other bet types) wagers.
Having been passed by the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the Senate, H480 now passes to the Senate Finance Committee. At this stage, the committee will look at start-up costs for the Lottery Commission, which Lange estimates to be around $250,000 in one-time costs, then $550,000 in recurring annual costs.
Once these are determined and assigned to the appropriate state budgetary categories, the Finance Committee makes a recommendation on whether or not the bill should be passed.
“I fully expect this to be a 5-0 vote to recommend passage from the committee and it will pass on the Senate floor,” Lang told iGB North America.
After this, the bill returns to the House, which can either concur with the amendments, or demand a conference committee to reach a compromise. Only after this stage will the bill go to Governor Chris Sununu to be signed into law.