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New Hampshire House Committee review iGaming bill

DraftKings has a monopoly on sports betting in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire House committee got its first look at a bill to legalise online casinos in the state on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 104, which was first cleared by the New Hampshire Senate by a single vote on March 30, will give gamblers over 18 access to digital online casino games like poker, blackjack, and roulette. The new regulations will not allow online slots.

The state’s lottery will be appointed as the gaming regulator, and revenue from the activity will be used to fund higher education.

A community college education scholarship fund will be created from the proceeds of digital sports betting, which will greatly benefit the students in the area.

According to Senator Timothy Lang, the scholarship fund was the primary aim of the bill. By 2026, the state can expect online gambling to generate $13.4 million for the community college education scholarship fund. The state will record smaller figures in 2024 and 2025 because of the industry’s infancy.

Interested gambling operators will need to go through a bidding process to secure a licence.

The current measure does not have limits on wager sizes for digital games and has a tax rate of 35%. The tax structure is similar to how New Hampshire set up legal sports betting.

After reviewing several bids, New Hampshire gifted a monopoly to DraftKings when it could have had up to five online platforms. In exchange for exclusivity, the gambling giant offered to pay 51% in taxes.

SB 104 had its own share of dissenters, with the charities and operators that benefit from New Hampshire’s brick-and-mortar gaming venues pushing against it. Operators claim that if legalised, online gambling will eat up a chunk of their profits and harm charities they fund in the process.

Charities in New Hampshire currently get a portion of the revenue from gambling entities in the state. In the last fiscal year, they generated approximately $20 million.

Supporters of the measure stated that the gambling industry was big enough that digital gaming would not steal customers from brick-and-mortar venues. Rather, it would expand the number of gamblers by giving them the option of placing bets online.

Lang asserted that games of chance were already available on unregulated, illegal websites outside the country, and if SB 104 is passed, it will shield gamblers in New Hampshire from unpleasant situations.

“You can’t exactly go to the Attorney General and say, ‘Hey, I was illegally playing poker out of a site in Costa Rica, and I won the jackpot, and they are refusing to pay me,’” Lang said.

The senator also stated that the bill would increase the workforce in the state through its scholarships for college students who would go ahead and take on needed roles within the local economy.

New Hampshire is not the only US state facing opposition in its attempt to legalise online gambling. Similar bills in states like Maryland, Iowa, New York, and Indiana have already failed this session; however, according to stakeholders, if the economy becomes recessionary, supporters of the bill might have a better chance.

The only states that offer online casinos in the US are Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Online slots are also legal in those states.

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