Advanced by a single vote

New Hampshire bill legalizing online gaming passes Senate, but faces long odds at House

Reading time 1:30 min

The New Hampshire Senate has passed a bill legalizing online casino gaming. Drafted by Rep. Tim Land, SB 104 passed the chamber by a close margin, becoming the first successful online casino vote by a Senate in 2023.

The proposal was able to advance despite concerns that legal iGaming could cannibalize land-based casinos. In New Hampshire, charitable casinos offer part of their revenue to the state to fund various charities: many suggest an expansion could adversely affect these efforts.

Charitable gaming properties in the state provide Lucky 7 electronic games and historical horse racing (HHR). Senator Dayl Abbas pointed out that charities heavily rely on local gaming operators and showed concerns about expanding gambling. 

In response, Lang argued that New Hampshire already has online gaming through its legal sports betting market; and that online sports wagering has not affected charitable gaming revenue.

In order to favor charitable gaming sites, an amendment was added to ban the games they offer for iGaming. As a result, the iCasino bill limits the offering to online table games, as brick-and-mortar casinos offer HHR.

The amendment further has another stipulation that calls for iGaming operators to inform players of the nearest land-based charitable casino. Additionally, the bill diverts online gaming revenue to fund community college scholarships.

Lang’s online casino bill grants the New Hampshire Lottery Commission the role to monitor online casino gaming and hold a thorough bidding process while choosing operators. The legislation lists legal online games like baccarat, online poker, craps, roulette, and blackjack; and also sets 18 years as the lowest gambling age.

SB 104 is seemingly tied to SB 120, a bill expanding charitable gaming max bets. The bill raises the betting limit from $10 to $50; buy-in and re-buy limits on tournament games from $150 and $250 to $2,500; and table stake limits go from $150 to $2,500 as well.

Lang said SB 120 would dramatically increase revenues of charitable gaming operations and charities. By tying the two bills, online gaming could potentially have a bigger shot at passage since SB 120 helps address cannibalization concerns.

The two bills have been advanced to the House by a single vote, where passage is expected to be more difficult than in the Senate. The New Hampshire legislative session adjourns on June 30.

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