New Hampshire Could Open First Retail Sports Betting Stores in US

New Hampshire retail betting
Draft legislation in New Hampshire would permit UK-style sports betting stores as well as legal online and mobile gambling.

30-second summary

  • New Hampshire bill HB 480-FN proposes retail sports betting stores
  • Division of Sports Wagering would manage sports betting as part of the Lottery Commission
  • Would be the first of their kind in the United States
  • Online and mobile sports betting would also be made legal
  • Bill proposed for approval by July 1

A new way to bet

Bill HB 480-FN was introduced into the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and will allow gambling operators to open premises purely for the placing of sports bets.

These types of stores are popular in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where they are known as bookmakers or bookies. Bettors can go into these locations to place their bets, as well as study form and watch the events on the television screens.

Bettors will need to be at least 18 years old in order to place a sports bet.

The bill would put the Lottery Commission in charge of creating a new system for the regulation of all forms of sports betting, including online, mobile and physical location.

A newly created Division of Sports Wagering would manage sports betting inside of the Lottery Commission. The draft legislation contains options as to how the commission would prefer to operate matters. It could offer this type of wagering itself or put in place some form of license for a “sports betting agent”.

The bill is timetabled to gain approval from the legislature by July 1.

Retail sports betting stores

There are no physical casinos in New Hampshire, which means that lawmakers need to think outside the box to offer sports betting in physical facilities.

The state plans to have street betting shops to solve this issue. This does not yet exist anywhere in the US, not even in Nevada. Each city or town in New Hampshire would need to authorize the presence of retail sports betting stores in their location. This would be done through a local referendum.

Online operations would be fully in the control of the authorities, however, and the municipalities would have no say on where this would be available. Online bettors will not be permitted to place wagers on college sports events that take place in New Hampshire or involve the local teams.

Management of the stores

If the Lottery Commission decides to launch the sports betting retail locations itself, it will need to appoint vendors to manage them.

The commission would need to hire additional staff, adding some costs that it will need to consider.

If a betting agent is in charge of the system, they would need to give a significant percentage of revenue to the state. The draft bill indicates 10% of this amount would go toward helping problem gamblers and promoting responsible gambling.

The commission would then open up the application process for a sports betting agent, with the aim of appointing one by the start of 2020. The first sports betting operations in the state would be open by July 1, 2020.

Significant revenue potential

There is a lot of potential in store for the state if the bill is passed. The retail stores will likely operate on tight margins, but online operations have the potential to be more lucrative. None of New Hampshire’s neighboring states currently offer legal sports betting or online gambling, leaving a gap in the market the state could fill.

In states that have already legalized sports betting, such as New Jersey, people willingly travel across the border from other states to place sports bets. This happens at physical locations for sportsbooks, but is even more common for online sportsbooks.

Countless New Yorkers, for example, travel across state lines to place their sports bets through a mobile app in New Jersey. As soon as they have done so, they return to New York. New Jersey is seeing more intake from mobile sports betting than sportsbooks at physical locations.

As per the estimations in the bill, sports betting revenues in 2021 are expected to range from a low of $1.5m to a high of $7.5m. With a population of just over 1.3m people, this would add reasonable revues to New Hampshire’s annual budget. The state expects the full potential revenues from these operations to start rolling in by 2025.