BC-NH-XGR--Sports Betting,2nd Ld-Writethru, NH
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire moved another step closer to legalizing sports betting Tuesday with the House’s passage of a bill allowing mobile gambling and wagering at up to 10 retail locations.
The House voted 269-82 to send the bill to the Senate. Meanwhile, House leaders said they also will likely incorporate the provisions into their proposed state budget, creating multiple tracks for the legislation, which has the backing of Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.
The bill would legalize betting on professional sports and most Division I college sports, excluding games involving New Hampshire schools. Under the supervision and regulation of the state’s Lottery Commission, both mobile and retail gambling would be allowed, producing an estimated $7.5 million for education in fiscal year 2021 and $13.5 million two years later.
Supporters argued legalizing sports betting will bring black-market activity to the surface and provide support for problem gamblers through a new organization focused on education, prevention and treatment.
“Problem gambling is not a new phenomenon. Too many people participating now in legal and illegal gambling activities have been badly hurt by it,” said Rep. Richard Ames, D-Jaffrey. “Establishing this new Council for Responsible Gambling and bringing black-market sports betting out of the shadows into a place where help can be provided when needed means that we are at last going to get serious about this destructive addiction.”
Seven states joined Nevada and legalized sports betting last year after a U.S. Supreme Court decision in May ended Nevada’s monopoly, and lawmakers in at least 22 states are considering legislation this year.
Opponents in New Hampshire argue sports betting would continue the state’s reliance on problematic revenue sources, and that the new council would further strain the state’s already insufficient mental health workforce.
“This is a major bill, and we’re going to be living with its consequences for decades,” said Rep. Jesse Edwards, R-Auburn. “I just want you to vote with your eyes open because there’s going to be some downsides.”
Associated Press writer Geoff Mulvihill contributed to this report from Mount Laurel, N.J.
This story has been corrected to show that the bill was sent to the Senate, not the House Finance Committee.