(The Center Square) – New Hampshire has been raking in cash from legalized sports betting, and some lawmakers want to amend the state's new gaming laws to allow more wagering.
A new proposal filed by state Rep. Tim Lang, R-Sanbornton, would expand the number of venues allowed to offer sports betting and allow live in-game wagering at retail locations.
"Sports betting has been hugely successful in New Hampshire," Lang said. "We're just looking to make it better, and help open up the market some more."
Lang, who was the primary sponsor of legislation two years ago that legalized sports betting in New Hampshire, said under the state's current gaming laws, live-wagering – where fans bet on outcomes while the game is being played – is allowed online but not at the two retail sporting betting locations in Manchester and Seabrook.
"It makes zero sense," he said. "I could literally be sitting in the casino, where I could place a bet before the game started, but once the game started I would have to take out my phone to place another bet."
House Bill 330 would allow up to 10 retail sports betting sites statewide and authorize wagering so-called "Tier 2" betting in the facilities. It would also create a market-driven process for expanding the number of sites in the future.
"The state shouldn't be setting an artificial limit," Lang said. "We need to let the market drive the need."
Sports betting got underway in New Hampshire last month. The state has signed a six-year contract with Boston-based DraftKings to operate online and mobile waging on games.
Under the contract, the state gets 50% of the sports betting revenue, most of which is earmarked for education. State officials expect to collect at least $7.5 million for education in fiscal year 2021, which will increase to $13.5 million by 2023.
More than 6,000 people signed up for sports betting when it launched on Dec. 30, 2020, with about $250,000 in wagers placed in the first day, according to the New Hampshire Lottery.
Gov. Chris Sununu says more than $300 million has been wagered on sports betting since then, providing about $10 million to the state for education.
New Hampshire is one of several states that have legalized wagers on professional sports after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a federal law barring sports gambling in nearly all states except Nevada, paving the way for wagers on games. The case involved New Jersey, which fought for years to allow sports gambling at casinos and racetracks.
Opponents of legalized gambling say expanding sports betting will mean more people losing their money to state-sponsored gambling.
Les Bernal, national director of the group Stop Predatory Gambling, said sports betting is creating an "epidemic of youth gambling" and "perpetuating a form of financial fraud."
"There’s no question that a disproportionate amount of people who participate in gambling are low income folks who don’t own any assets," he said. "Instead of addressing their revenue problems responsibly, New Hampshire continues to push more of the tax burden onto middle- and low-income citizens, which is going to make people poorer."