NH online casinos, poker will have to wait until next year

New Hampshire Isn’t Joining PA With Legal Online Gambling, As Bill Dies In Legislature

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The positive developments in Pennsylvania may have received all the attention, but another state legislature was also considering an online gambling bill last week: New Hampshire.

H 562, a placeholder bill seeking to legalize online gambling in the Granite State, was up for consideration during an Executive Session last week.

In a unanimous vote of 23-0, the bill was found “inexpedient to legislate” by the members of the executive session. The vote puts an end to New Hampshire’s online gambling hopes for the remainder of the legislative session.

The chances of online gambling being revisited in 2018 likely depend on the performance of the state’s recently authorized online lottery.

NH online lottery will soon be a reality

New Hampshire jumped into the online gambling conversation in a big way this year.

In addition to the introduction of H 562, the New Hampshire legislature authorized online lottery sales in July, just the fifth state to do so. Pennsylvania became the sixth state to legalize online lottery last week.

Online lottery is slated to go live in New Hampshire at the beginning of 2018.

Because of the gaming landscape in New Hampshire, online gambling is likely tied to the performance of online lottery. Here’s why.

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Who would run New Hampshire online casinos?

Because it was a placeholder bill, H 562 was scant on specifics. In particular, it wasn’t clear who would be licensed to operate online casinos in the state.

New Hampshire has some legal gambling, but the state’s “casinos” are simply charity poker rooms. Some offer bingo, and a few have table games, but these are casinos under the loosest of definitions.

Because of their size, New Hampshire’s gaming establishments don’t have the money or infrastructure to run online gambling websites.

There is always the possibility they could simply act as the conduit. The New Hampshire “casinos” would hold the licenses, letting an established online gambling company run the operation.

However, unless the state offers a sweetheart deal, there’s not a lot of appeal for an online gambling company to set up shop in a state with a population of 1.3 million people.

Possible NH online gambling models

If New Hampshire takes another crack at online casinos next year, the most likely model is for the state lottery to oversee the process. It would offer the games alongside its online lottery products.

A second possibility would see the lottery create the framework. Then the state’s gaming establishments would operate as skins, slapping their unique branding on the singular online gambling platform.

Either way, we’ll have to wait until next year to see what New Hampshire does.

- 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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