New Hampshire isn’t exactly chomping at the bit to introduce sports gambling, but there are several bills trying to make it happen. One, SB310, recently met with yawns by a House committee, while the other is pushing through the mud to try and find its way out of the political quagmire. As the struggle continues, changes to the bill could help it find the path.
Representative Timothy Lang sponsored a bill, HB480, that is now before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Lang contacted the committee this week and asked that it strip out two amendments that had been added by his chamber in order to receive stronger support by the Senate.
One of the changes was to remove a cap on the number of brick-and-mortar locations that would be allowed. That limit was set at ten, but many industry players believe that the cap wouldn’t be enough to rid the state of the sports gambling black market. As such, the bill would ultimately be counterproductive to one of its established goals.
Lang explained after the committee agreed to make the change, “That was a compromise with the House Democrats, who feared there would be a betting parlor on every street corner. I would prefer it without a cap. I would rather have the lottery commission deal with that and have the flexibility to decide how many retail locations we’ll have in the state.”
The other requested change was sought to remove the ban on in-game wagers at retail locations. Tier I wagers and Tier III wagers, described respectively as outcome-related and lottery-themed, will be allowed, but Tier II—in-play betting—is off the books. It will, however, be allowed online. This is paradoxical, as Lang properly asserts by stating, “Some House Democrats were concerned that in-game betting is kind of like playing a slot machine, that people would bet on the next play, then bet on the next play, get wrapped up in the game and lose their shirt. I don’t think it’s appropriate because they can whip their phone out and make the same bet. It doesn’t stop the action, it just makes it so retailers are hamstrung.”
The changes will make state Democrats happy, which might give the bill a better shot at being approved. It already has better chances than SB310. Lawmakers in the House haven’t been impressed with that legislation’s efforts and gave it a big “inexpedient to legislate” stamp in a committee meeting on Wednesday.