Online Gaming Still on New Hampshire Table
Oh, hello, New Hampshire!
In very surprising news, the state of New Hampshire may consider legalizing and regulating online gambling this week. In a state that always seemed like a serious longshot for joining the ranks of the online poker states in America at this point in its slow growth, rays of hope have emerged.
The online gaming bill stalled in late August but somehow found new life and is reportedly scheduled to be considered during an executive session this week. While it is unlikely to go too far due to its lack of specifics, any attention to the topic is indeed welcome.
When 2017 began, New Hampshire was one of the first to bring up online gaming for consideration. The bill to allow online gambling was in the form of H.562 and sponsored by Republican State Representatives Eric Schleien, Nick Zaricki, and Robert Fisher. The wording was brief and declared online gambling be allowed over an internet connection. More importantly, however, it aimed to remove internet gambling from RSA.647, where it is listed as a crime.
Via the Ways and Means Committee, H.562 was put on the agenda for a special hearing in late January, but no information emerged from the closed-door hearing. The bill then was retained in committee in mid-February, but no other discussions were on the record… until August.
— Chris Krafcik (@ckrafcik) February 16, 2017
The bill came to life again and was retained for a subcommittee work session set for early September. And then again, silence.
Just last week, Online Poker Report noticed that H.562 was scheduled to set to be a part of a House executive session on October 25. Steve Ruddock noted in his article that “it would be uncommon for a bill to be brought back up in late October unless there are new developments.”
Further, he reported that an executive session will operate in much the same way as a committee hearing but perhaps without as much testimony. The bill could then be passed, amended and passed, referred back to the committee, or declared inexpedient to legislate.
Therefore, it is possible that online gambling could be legalized this week.
There is Always a But
In this situation, there are several buts. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for this bill is the fact that it contains no details with regard to licenses, taxation, costs, or regulations. All of that information would need to be added in the executive session before passing as amended and pushing it forward.
Another problem? One of the three original sponsors of the bill was recently caught up in a scandal involving a minor and alleged sexual assault.
— Chris Krafcik (@ckrafcik) October 12, 2017
Finally, there are no casinos in the state of New Hampshire. There have been attempts to garner legislative support for land-based casinos for nearly two decades, but there were never enough votes to make it happen. On the other hand, the state did legalize online lottery sales this year, so there may be a tie to that industry, though it remains unclear how licenses would be issued and to whom.
It is difficult to know what legislators are thinking, but the outcome of this week’s executive session will provide more context and an idea as to whether H.562 has a chance this year or even in 2018. If there is momentum and the desire for online gaming, it will be evident in some way by the action or inaction this week.