New Hampshire online casino bill set for Senate floor next week

New Hampshire Capitol
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The hopes and dreams of the US online casino market, as is customary, lie in the northeast of the country. After several failures, only one piece of online casino legislation remains realistically alive at this stage of the session. A bill in New Hampshire is set to reach the Senate floor on Thursday and could pass before the month’s end. 

Senate Bill 104 seeks to regulate online gambling and create a community college education scholarship fund using the proceeds of gaming revenue. 

Sponsored by Sen. Timothy Lang, a Republican, SB104 passed through committee earlier this week, meaning it will be debated on the Senate floor next week. 

The full House of Representatives will be given the opportunity to vote on the bill, given it is a native Senate bill. Should it gain a simple majority, it would then go to Gov. Christopher Sununu for approval. 

Is online casino about to be legalized in New Hampshire?

SB104, in its amended form, does not explicitly number the amount of prospective licensees, but denotes that the New Hampshire Lottery would be able to open a bidding process for operators to run online casino on their behalf. The lottery would be charged with regulating the market.

The bidding process would cover a range of parameters including tax rate, though it is estimated to be at around 35% of revenue, responsible gambling measures, integrity and capabilities as an operator.

The bill offers online forms of poker, blackjack, cards, roulette, craps, and baccarat amongst other games of chance. Significantly, if the bill does make it into law, then New Hampshire would offer a full range of gambling products, given it already has online sports betting, casino and lottery. 

Should the bill be enshrined into law, it would become effective from Jan 1, 2024. This means it is unlikely to see any new online casino launches during 2023 in the US.

Predictions of financial contributions

Alongside the provisions for the structure of New Hampshire online casino law, the bill also provides projections for revenues and contributions to the Scholarship Fund. 

Assuming a tax rate of 35%, the fiscal note projects that online casino would generate $14.2m in revenue for the state by FY26, from GGR of $40.5m.

This would also mean revenues to the Scholarship Fund of $13.5m by the third year of the market going live. 

Will the bill pass? 

As aforementioned, New Hampshire now represents the greatest chance of legalized online casino expansion this year. The Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, but SB104 has cross-party sponsorship. 

Naturally, it is more difficult to persuade lawmakers to pass through online casino due to fears over problem gambling. 

However, Sen. Lang, the sponsor of the bill, is confident that his measure will pass a Senate vote. He took to Twitter to say “the bill ought to pass with an amendment (minor changes to the Community College scholarship side of the bill”. 

Gov. Sununu’s position on online casino is currently unknown, but given that he was the man who signed New Hampshire’s sports betting laws, it at least indicates he is generally supportive of gambling expansion in the state.