raftKings said last week it has secured office space in Nashua, New Hampshire, but officials fear that by the time the city voters have another chance to approve sports betting next year, no more licenses will be available.
Last November, Nashua voters rejected a proposal to allow retail sports betting in the city. Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, said she was asked by Mayor Jim Donchess to file Senate Bill 757, which would have given cities more flexibility to put sports betting on local ballots. “We viewed this as an economic development bill because we thought of the possibility of bringing hundreds of jobs to Nashua. It was also going to be helpful to the nonprofits who profit from charitable gaming,” Rosenwald said, as reported by New Hampshire Union Leader.
Under current law, sports betting proposals can only go on municipal election ballots, so the earliest Nashua voters could reconsider the topic is November 2021. That might not be soon enough, Rosenwald said, because state law allows for only 10 retail sports betting licenses.
Rosenwald’s bill would have permitted Nashua to put the question on the state primary election ballot on Sept. 8 this year. Senate Bill 757 was eventually included in House Bill 1234, which was vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu last month. “It was very disappointing. There may not be any licenses available by next November when we can vote on this again,” she said.
Rosenwald acknowledged that getting the proposal on the primary ballot would have required a quick turnaround even if the governor had not vetoed it, but she said city officials were prepared to print a special ballot and have the required public hearing.
Four months after becoming a publicly-traded company, the sports betting website DraftKings said last week that it has opened a new office in New Hampshire. “As part of our commitment to the great state of New Hampshire, DraftKings has opened a 7,500-square-foot office in Nashua,” said Graham Walters, chief people officer for the Boston-based company.
“Currently, DraftKings employees are working from home as a result of COVID-19,” Walters said. “We look forward to welcoming employees back to our newest (Nashua) office when it is safe to do so.” DraftKings does not need a retail sports betting license to operate an office in the city.
“I have heard about DraftKings willing to look at Nashua to move at least some of its operations, but now we won’t have sports betting to even show them that we like that kind of business,” Rosenwald said.
The New Hampshire Lottery previously partnered with DraftKings to launch online and mobile sports betting in the state.