New Hampshire sports bill returns to Senate for chamber approval

23 May 2019

New Hampshire has taken a step closer to legalising sports wagering after a bill was passed back to the Senate for a final chamber reading.

HB480, which sets out plans to regulate sports betting in-person, online and via mobile in New Hampshire, has been granted an ‘ought to pass with amendment’ recommendation by the Senate Finance Committee.

The bill will now return to the Senate for further discussion and, if approved, will then go back to the House for concurrence with any changes. Should this process run smoothly, the bill would progress forward to be signed into law by Governor Chris Sununu.

The latest amendment to the bill focuses primarily on the issue of mobile betting in New Hampshire - which has a population of 1.36m - including clarification of a proposed rule for a maximum of five mobile operators in the state.

Operators that secure a licence would need to run age verification software to ensure that only players over the age of 18 could access services. Geolocation software should also be in place to limit mobile betting to anywhere from inside the state’s boundaries.

The New Hampshire Lottery Commission would either independently or through an agent provide wager limits for daily, weekly and monthly amounts “consistent with the best practices in addressing problem gambling” for mobile betting.

The amendment also outlines how the Commission would only select operators for sportsbooks that could demonstrate their bids would provide the highest percentage of revenue for the state.

While other measures remain largely unchanged, the bill does not yet clarify how much licences will cost in New Hampshire, nor the level of tax operators will face in the state.

Should the bill progress and be signed into the law by Governor Sununu, the first legal sports bets in New Hampshire could be placed on or around July 1, 2020.

While HB480 has been edging forward in the legislative process, New Hampshire has also been continuing a campaign against the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the revision of its 2011 ruling on the Wire Act.

In January, the DOJ revised its 2011 ruling on the Wire Act to state that the law’s prohibition applies to all forms of gambling and not just sports betting. However, the DOJ in April said that this revised stance does not address the legality of interstate and online lotteries.

The April filing came in response to a legal challenge from New Hampshire over the revised opinion, and NeoPollard has now made a further filing on the matter in New Hampshire District Court.

Earlier this month, NeoPollard Interactive, the vendor for the New Hampshire Lottery, also hit out at the DoJ over its uncertainty as to whether the Wire Act applies to interstate and online lotteries, calling for the “charade to end”.

Image: Hollis1138