The New Hampshire legislature has decided to take another look at the online gambling bill that it put on ice back in August. The bill, H 562, is part of an executive session, which will take place on Oct. 25.
New Hampshire’s decision to revisit the legislation should be seen as a positive sign. The state has shown a willingness to expand into online gambling with its online lottery legislation. It would be uncommon for a bill to be brought back up in late October unless there are new developments.
An executive session in New Hampshire is more or less a committee hearing. Following deliberations, lawmakers can take one of the following actions on the bill:
The best outcome for online gambling and poker supporters is “ought to pass as amended.”
H 562 is a placeholder bill with very few specifics; therefore, it will require a lot of retooling before it can remotely be considered a viable bill.
On the one hand, it would be a small miracle for New Hampshire to take a one-page shell bill and turn it into an online gambling law in the space of a year. On the other hand, while that timeline may seem aggressive, as I speculated in August, there might be a plan already in place to merge online gambling with the state lottery.
If New Hampshire’s vision is to implement the “Delaware model” and have its online lottery oversee online gambling — with in-state gaming establishments providing the branding — the time to strike may be now, right after the state legalized online lottery sales.
The bill’s chances may have taken a hit with the recent revelations that its primary sponsor, Rep. Eric Schleien, was accused of sexually assaulting a minor.
Schleien is one of the bill’s three Republican sponsors. The other two are Reps. Nick Zaricki and Robert Fisher.