New Hampshire bill would okay standalone retail betting shops


new-hampshire-sports-betting-retail-shopsNew Hampshire has introduced legislation that would create the nation’s first standalone sports betting retail shops.

Thursday saw the New Hampshire House of Representatives introduce HB 480, which aims to establish a system within the state Lottery Commission for land-based, online and mobile sports betting. The bill would establish a new Division of Sports Wagering within the commission.

The legislation leaves it up to the Commission whether it wants to offer wagering directly and/or through an authorized ‘Sports Betting Agent’ via “the use of mobile internet devices and through physical sports book retail establishments.” That last bit is interesting, given that, unlike most states pondering wagering bills, New Hampshire currently has no brick-and-mortar casinos.

In other words, the state would authorize UK-style betting shops on its streets, something not even Nevada has okayed, although that state used to feature automated betting kiosks in pubs and bars until mobile wagering made them somewhat superfluous.

New Hampshire’s cities and towns would each have to approve the installation of any betting shops via a ballot referendum. However, no gambling-phobic municipality would be permitted to interfere with the state’s digital betting operation.

Bettors would have to be 18 years or older, and the state wouldn’t permit wagers on collegiate events that either involve New Hampshire teams or take place within the state.

Should the Commission opt to launch its own wagering operation, it will be allowed to hire vendors to manage it. Should the state opt to hire a betting agent, said agent would remit an unspecified share of betting revenue back to the state, 10% of which would be directed into responsible gambling programs.

The bill envisions a timeline that would see the legislature give the bill its thumbs up by July 1, then a Request For Proposal process will result in the selection of a betting agent by January 1, 2020. Said agent would accept the state’s first legal wagers by July 1, 2020.

While New Hampshire may be a casino laggard, it became only the sixth US state to join the online lottery brigade last September.