Sports betting legislation is all set to receive final legislative approval in the New Hampshire House on Thursday after getting a recommendation of concurrence Wednesday in the Ways and Means Committee.
The House vote is considered a mere formality, according to bill author Rep. Timothy Lang.
“It will be a pretty quick vote,” Lang said. “I anticipate it won’t be challenged by anybody.”
This vote will send it to the governor’s desk, where a signature is expected to turn the bill into law.
New Hampshire House to concur with Senate changes
The Senate made three amendments to H 480, creating the need for the originating chamber to concur.
The amendments clarified that multiple online sports betting operators are permitted, capping mobile operators at five and reasserting that retail operators are capped at 10.
Rep. Susan Almy, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, had the authority to decide whether the committee concurred with the changes.
On Wednesday, she chose to survey committee members and opted for approval once she realized a consensus of the committee supported the bill. No official vote was taken.
“Nobody thought there was anything that they changed that would require us to go to a committee of conference and renegotiate a couple of really small things,” Almy said. “They didn’t change much.”
Almy told Legal Sports Report that she would get up on the floor Thursday and give a very short statement discussing what changes the Senate made, and reporting that the committee met and recommends the House concur with the changes.
“Then there will be a vote and unless someone we don’t know about gets up and says they want to speak against this and gets people to vote the other way, then it passes,” Almy said. “Very seldom does someone get up and do that at this stage.”
Legislator could tweak sports betting parameters in future
Lang indicated that he is disappointed that the Senate chose to limit the number of retail locations for sports betting. As a free-market individual, he prefers to see the market manage itself and have as many locations as supported.
He had also hoped that the Senate would reinstate brick-and-mortar in-play wagering, originally removed by the House Ways and Means Committee, stating that it makes no sense that in-play wagering can be done through mobile but not at a tavern.
Lang asserted that he will seek to make changes to the law in the future if needed.
“I’ll take the policy win,” Lang said. “Sports betting will now be legal in New Hampshire, and we can fine-tune it down the road.”
How New Hampshire sports betting will look
The bill authorizes the New Hampshire Lottery Commission to conduct sports betting directly or through authorized agents via the use of mobile internet devices and retail establishments. The effective date of the bill is upon its passage.
The legislation will:
- Create a Division of Sports Wagering within the NH Lottery Commission to serve as regulator.
- Permit wagering by people 18 years of age or older located in the state.
- Allow for remote registration for mobile wagering.
- Prohibit wagering on NH collegiate teams and any collegiate game taking place in the state.
- Not provide an integrity fee to sports leagues or mandate the use of official league data.
Governor’s signature expected in about a month
Following tomorrow’s legislative passage, H 480 will head to the Enrolled Bills Committee to make sure the bill is clean and without typographical errors when it heads to the governor.
Lang expects the bill to reach Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk in the next three to four weeks. Sununu will then have 10 days to sign the bill. He is certain to do so, having included $10 million from sports betting in his state budget.
Anticipating the bill’s passage, Lang told LSR that he already contacted the governor’s office asking to be involved in a ceremonial signing of the legislation. You might say he is proud of the bill.
“I look at it as three groups are winning,” Lang said. “The citizens are winning in that they will now be able to place a bet and have consumer protections behind it, businesses are winning because they’ll have the opportunity to grow, and lastly the State of New Hampshire is winning because it gets revenue that will go toward education.”
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