New Hampshire weighs pros and cons of sports betting

Published: Feb. 26, 2019 at 3:54 PM EST
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There's a new push to legalize sports betting in New Hampshire, which would include online and a local option for retail locations. But how much control would would cities and towns really have?

If you ask Granite State residents whether they support sports gambling, you get a range or answers. Some people say it feeds addiction, while others say it happens anyway, so the state might as well get a cut.

"I think it is going to be good for the state of New Hampshire because people are going to be doing it anyway, so the revenue might as well benefit New Hampshire," said Ken Ryan of Lebanon.

"I don't know, I just feel like it's up to the individual who does it. I don't gamble like that. I need my money," said Earle Woodward of Lebanon.

House Bill 480 would legalize betting on professional sports, both online and at retail spaces. Annual revenue estimates are in the millions. That money would be earmarked to the state's education fund and addiction services. Local municipalities would vote on whether they wanted a sports betting venue in their community. But not everyone is buying it.

"It's kind of odd to me that there would be local option language for a community, but really that community's hand's would be tied because you could still place the bet, just not in a physical location," said Nick Koloski, who owns a sports bar in Claremont.

He says he was an early supporter of Keno when the state allowed that in, but he's on the fence when it comes to betting on sports. He's not against gambling, he just questions what the incentive would be for a business like his to invest.

The bill requires video surveillance monitored by the state lottery commission. The state would bid out the contract to an established vendor like Draft Kings to facilitate the process.

"If I am going to jump through all the hoops to be a location to allow that betting, than what stops somebody from coming in and using a smart phone app with an approved vendor and sitting here at a table and doing the same?" Koloski said.

Governor Chris Sununu has already showed his cards on the issue. He supports sports betting in New Hampshire and plans to include specific language to make it happen in a detailed budget report due out this week.