New Hampshire Becomes The Latest In A Surprising List Of States Mulling Online Gambling Legalization

Bill Aimed At Legalizing Online Gambling Surfaces In New Hampshire

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Three Republican members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives have introduced legislation that would decriminalize online gambling in the Granite State.

HB 562 was sponsored by Reps. Eric Schleien, Nick Zaricki, and Robert Fisher. The bill was introduced in early January and referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 10 a.m. in the New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee.

The Ways and Means Committee will be discussing a daily fantasy sports bill at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

Inside the NH online gambling legislation

The legislation is succinct and is simply titled, Allowing Online Gambling.

The full text reads:

“This bill exempts gambling done over the Internet from gambling offenses under RSA 647. The Department of Justice to date has neither investigated nor prosecuted online gaming offenses and therefore does not expect this bill to have any impact on expenditures.

To the extent this bill legalizes a form of gambling, it may have an indeterminable impact on lottery and charitable gaming revenue. Lottery and charitable gaming revenue is credited to the lottery fund, with net revenues after Lottery Commission expenditures being credited to the state education trust fund.”

Because of its lack of specifics, it’s hard to gauge the purpose of the legislation. But the gist of the bill seems to indicate HB 562 is 180 degrees away from what other states are doing on the online gaming front.

How HB 562 differs from efforts in other states

Unlike efforts in other states, HB 562 wouldn’t (at least as presently written) create a regulatory framework in which online gambling sites would be licensed and regulated by the state of New Hampshire.

Nor does it require legal online gaming sites to be operated by existing New Hampshire companies.

Rather, HB 562 appears to simply decriminalize online gambling, ostensibly by allowing New Hampshire residents to play at existing online casinos and poker sites.

The legislation even goes so far as to predict it might have a negative revenue impact on the state, since there wouldn’t be any licensing fees or taxes to collect.

In effect, the bill would turn New Hampshire into a white market, but without the typical benefits locales expect when they legalize online gambling: new revenue, state regulations to protect consumers, and a positive economic impact on existing businesses.

Basically, if HB 562 were enacted it might conceivably open the door for New Hampshire residents to join the global online poker and online casino market, and play at sites like PokerStars (the global site) and beyond – assuming these companies wanted to operate in New Hampshire.

If it’s enacted, the effective date for the bill would be Jan. 1, 2018.

Precisely what the sponsors of the bill are trying to accomplish is still unclear, and will hopefully be explained during Tuesday’s hearing.

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- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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