The New Hampshire State Senate has approved a bill calling for the legalization and regulation of several forms of online casino-style gambling, including online poker. The Senate-approved bill, SB 104, would expand online gambling in the Granite State under the auspices of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission.
SB 104 received approval on Friday on a razor-thin 12-11 vote after being introduced in January by a bipartisan list of sponsors. The bill’s Senate passage moves the matter to New Hampshire’s House, where an initial committe assignment and possible hearings have yet to be set.
Should New Hampshire ultimately approve the casino-style online gambling, it would add to the online sports betting already available in the state. New Hampshire legalized both online and live sports betting in 2019, immediately as the state’s Lottery Commission triumphed in a years-long federal legal battle with the US Department of Justice over the reach of the 1961 Wire Act.
SB 104 represents the first significant gambling expansion to receive serious consideration since the Wire Act battle, which also protected the state’s online-lottery interests. This latest measure, should it become law, would cover online slots, poker, blackjack, cards, roulette, craps, baccarat and “other style games” that traditionally would be offered in live casinos, up to the discretion of the Director of iGaming, the head of a state agency to be created under the bill.
The bill calls for between three and five online-gaming licenses to be awarded, with a live date sometime in 2024. Projections included within SB 104 assert that New Hampshire, as a state-wide market, would fall well behind the legalized online-gambling states of New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, but would still be a larger market than Delaware, which is current the least-populous US online-gambling state.
Despite its inclusion of online poker, SB 104 makes no mention of a possible multi-state compact to aid in building a sustainable player base. In the event the bill becomes law, the matter would have to be addressed either by the state’s legislature or by the newly created iGaming Division.