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This won’t be the year the New Hampshire House of Representatives gives in to Senate efforts to add casinos in the state according to one key lawmaker, but sports betting is still on the table in the Granite State.
For two decades, Sen. Lou D’Allesandro has tried to pass a bill to allow for two casinos in one of the few states left that doesn’t have casino gambling. This is his 11th attempt in the legislature’s two-year sessions, and the previous 10 have been shot down by the House.
However, last week the House Committee on Ways and Means heard S 310 and Chairman Susan Almy tells Legal Sports Report that it did not go well.
“It looks very clear that we are not going to be putting a casino in New Hampshire,” Almy said. “None of the casino companies want it and the House in general has been opposed to expanding to casinos with slot machines.”
Almy said the only people who spoke in favor of building casinos at the House hearing were D’Allesandro and a Libertarian member of the public who wants slot machines all over the state.
The telling sign was that nobody from the casino industry showed up to back the bill.
“No one seems interested because the New England market is totally saturated with casinos,” Almy said. “This time and the last time [that D’Allesandro introduced the bill], there was nobody there from the casino industry that wanted to use the licenses that this bill would offer to build a casino. There would have been lobbyists there if there was interest in it.”
Almy contends that, if NH sports betting goes the distance this year, the vehicle will be H 480, which will be heard Wednesday in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, on which D’Allesandro serves as vice chair.
The bill, which would allow legal sports betting at 10 retail locations and statewide through a mobile operator overseen by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, began when Gov. Chris Sununu included NH sports betting language in his 2020-21 budget proposal.
“The governor is in favor, the House is in favor, and the Senate has been more open to other forms of gambling in recent years than they were earlier when they were trying to protect the market for casinos,” Almy said.
She noted that her committee vice chair, Rep. Richard Ames, would speak in favor of the bill at Wednesday’s hearing.
Almy stated that she does think the Senate will allow for sports betting to pass without the casino expansion.
“I’m pretty sure they will pass it because they want any amount more revenue they can get to help pay for progressive state needs,” Almy said.