House Ways and Means Committee Opposes New Hampshire’s Online Casino Legislation

New Hampshire players hoped that the state would legalize iGaming in 2023. But, their dream won’t materialize as the House Ways and Means Committee shot SB 104 down after voting 20-0 in a recent session.

This shows that the committee members oppose the legislation hence preventing it from advancing. The state was the last one in the country deliberating allowing online casinos this year. Other states that considered similar bills included Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, and Maine.

The Committee’s Vote

Representative Fred Doucette presented the motion urging the committee to reject the proposed constitutional amendment. He argued that the bill’s sponsor explained its intent to the committee. But community college students need scholarships.

The bill had a few flaws, and the source of funds that the sponsor explained will adversely affect charities that currently use a charitable gaming model. Thus, the legislation requires amendments, and the committee will review it again soon.

Did the Committee Solely Oppose the iGaming Bill Because of Local Charities?

Lawmakers and stakeholders attended the bill’s hearing a day before the committee voted. They discussed its cannibalization of the state’s charities.

Rick Newman from the New Hampshire Charitable Gaming Operators Association stated that charitable gaming will rake in $25 million to $28 million in 2024. This is the revenue of over 1,000 charities hence making Newman concerned about iGaming as the bill doesn’t set a limit on bets.

Representative Tim Lang reiterated that there were similar arguments in 2019 when he sponsored a sports gambling bill. Charitable gaming revenue has grown since that year, and sports betting has raked in over $70 million.

Lang attempted to handle the cannibalization issue by restricting the state’s online casino to table games. He disclosed that games such as slot machines earn charitable casinos a large portion of their revenue. Still, he advocated for online casino apps to show nearby land-based charitable casinos.

Rebecca London, DraftKings Senior Government Affairs Manager, admitted that New Hampshire’s gross gaming revenue has steadily increased since it started offering sports gambling and online gaming. She believes that many residents who love playing online games have a limited selection now, and some of them are engaging illegally.

The Future of Community College Scholarships

Lang defended his online casino campaign in New Hampshire claiming that he intends to generate more revenue to address the ongoing workforce challenge. He believes that financing community college scholarships will increase the number of trained staff who can work as electricians, nurses, carpenters, plumbers, radiology technicians, and phlebotomists.

The representative didn’t draft his bill focusing on legalizing online gaming alone. Instead, he intended to solve the workforce problem through the community college system. Besides, he doesn’t consider drafting a bill whose source of cost he doesn’t know.

Several committee members were bothered about the constitutionality of channeling gaming revenue to community college scholarships rather than K-12 education. Even so, Lang stated that lottery and iGaming are different, emphasizing that charities receive charitable gaming revenue instead of educational institutions.

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