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New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (seated) is joined by state lottery officials at a bill signing for sports betting legislation Friday. (Image: New Hampshire Lottery)
With that, New Hampshire became the sixth state this year to legalize sports betting and the 16th state overall. The state’s lottery will manage it, through the newly created sports wagering division that will oversee both retail and online sportsbooks.

Sports betting is the right bet for New Hampshire,” said Sununu, a Republican, at the bill signing ceremony. “With the exciting new addition of sports betting, the New Hampshire Lottery will continue to drive critical revenue, putting even more money into our educational system. Today’s action will provide financial support and important resources to help our public education system, which will benefit every child in every school across the state — a win for New Hampshire.”

Prior to the signing, New Hampshire Lottery officials announced that sales for fiscal year 2019 surpassed $384 million, a record mark for the state. The lottery returned more than $100 million for state education, a 15.4 percent increase over fiscal year 2018.

“Sports betting represents an exciting new chapter for the New Hampshire Lottery and our loyal players,” said Charlie McIntyre, the lottery’s executive director. “The New Hampshire Lottery is well-positioned to strategically administer sports betting to maximize revenue and to protect our consumers.”

Sports Betting Details
While other states that have passed sports betting laws, like Indiana, are quickly ramping up implementation, don’t look for The Granite State to follow suit.

For starters, unlike several of the states that approved sports betting beforehand, New Hampshire does not have casinos that could serve as anchors for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.

In addition, the fiscal note attached to the bill Sununu signed into law lays out a conservative timeline for rolling out sports betting in the state. Lottery officials will develop a solicitation by the end of this year. The first bets, according to the note, would then likely take place by next July.

The law allows the state to have no more than five online sportsbooks and up to 10 retail establishments. The retail sportsbooks can only be located in towns that pass a local-option referendum to allow them.

Professional and college sports would be open for betting, although the state will prohibit action on collegiate games played in the state or involving a school based in the state, such as the University of New Hampshire or Dartmouth.

Small State, Big Opportunity?
With a statewide population of about 1.4 million people, New Hampshire is the second smallest state, ahead of only Montana, to enact sports betting legislation this year. Among all states that have legal sports betting, only Delaware and Rhode Island, the only other New England state where sports betting is legal, join Montana as having smaller populations.

However, while New Hampshire may be on the smaller end of the spectrum, it is within close proximity to Boston, whose metropolitan area includes about 4.7 million people. With teams in all four major professional sports, it is one of the biggest sports markets in the country.

While the southern half of the Boston market has easy access to Rhode Island’s sportsbooks, a book positioned off either Interstates 93 or 95 near the state line could be attractive to for those living in Boston and its northern suburbs.

The fiscal note anticipates the state’s sportsbooks achieving gross sales of $225 million in fiscal year 2021. That would generate revenues of nearly $11.3 million.

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