New Hampshire most likely won’t see more casino action, but sports gambling could be coming soon. After lawmakers pulled out their pencils and erasers to make some changes to a sports gambling bill earlier this month, things are moving forward and the light at the end of the tunnel continues to shine more brightly.
The Senate put the subject to a voice vote yesterday and the “ayes” have it. The state’s governor, Chris Sununu, is in favor of the bill, which will see the New Hampshire State Lottery Commission (NHSLC) manage the activity. The bill already made it past a House vote, but has to return to the chamber in order to address the changes introduced by the Senate.
The author of the bill, Representative Timothy Lang, asserts, “I anticipate the House will concur with the Senate and it will pass. If it does go to a committee of conference, I expect they will work it out, but I honestly believe they will just concur on the House floor and be done.”
When the bill went before the Senate’s Ways and Means Committee, that group suggest that the number of mobile operators be capped at five. The suggestion was accepted and turned into an amendment to the bill, which helped it to be approved by the Senate. Lang adds, “The cap of five clearly defines that it’s not a monopolistic venture.”
Other amendments were added while the Senate was discussing the bill, as well. The NHSLC has the ability to change the limit on the number of retail sportsbooks and mobile operators and the ability to place Tier 2 wagers at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks is back in play after having been removed by the House Ways and Means Committee.
As the bill makes its way back to the House, it isn’t expected to be put to a vote before May 30, the first day it could be considered. If it doesn’t get added to the agenda for that day, it would most likely be added to the calendar for June 6. If the Senate’s amendments are included, there could be some resistance in the House, especially given that the House Ways and Means Committee removed the Tier 2 and mobile limits that the Senate put back in.
There’s still the chance the bill will survive, though, and be presented to Governor Sununu. If so, New Hampshire could be looking at an additional $10 million to its annual budget over a two-year period. Asserts Lang, “I think Ways and Means is more enamored with money. These are minor changes, and you’ve got to give the Senate the ability to put their fingerprint on it.”