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NH sports betting legislation is on the way back to the Senate floor to get final chamber approval.
The Senate Finance Committee held a special session Tuesday to expedite H 480 on an “ought to pass with amendment” recommendation.
Last week, the New Hampshire Senate added an amendment from Sen. Bob Giuda clarifying a cap of five mobile operators allowed. The chamber voted to approve the Ways and Means Committee’s “ought to pass” recommendation.
However, rather than immediately sending the bill to the House for concurrence, the Senate diverted it to Finance for analysis.
The Senate is expected to approve the Finance recommendation May 30.
Senate approval will send the bill back to the House, where the originating chamber can concur with the changes or put the legislation to a conference committee to work out the differences between the bills.
“We did an executive session because we wanted to get all those bills out,” said Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, who chairs Finance. “It’s moving along swimmingly. The Senate is going to pass it. It’s in the budget for like $10 million.”
Giuda offered another proposal (suggested by bill author Rep. Timothy Lang) last week that faced opposition on the Senate floor. It would have given the lottery leeway to adjust the caps for mobile and retail (set at 10.)
After New Hampshire Lottery executive director Charles McIntyre indicated that he didn’t want the responsibility, the amendment wasn’t taken up.
Finance added another amendment Tuesday clarifying some areas, including the selection of vendors. The NH sports betting amendment:
One more amendment pushed by Lang could be taken up on the Senate floor. It adds in-play wagers, already permitted for mobile operators, to the legal sports betting allowed in retail sportsbooks.
Tavern owners are concerned that a patron might watch a game at their establishments but place their bets during games from a mobile app. On the other hand, there are concerns about taverns being able to handle the fast-paced nature of in-play bets.
Because the Senate made changes to the House bill, H 480 as amended needs approval from its originating chamber. Before a bill comes up on the floor, it needs seven days advance notice on the House calendar, which means it will likely take two weeks after Senate passage for the House to act.
The House Ways and Means Committee will make a recommendation on whether to concur with the Senate changes.
Given the nature of the changes, thus far, and that there is $10 million from sports betting in the New Hampshire budget approved by the House and Gov. Chris Sununu, concurrence is expected.
“I do anticipate that the House will concur with the Senate changes,” Lang said. “I think either way it will pass. If it goes to a committee of conference, I expect they will work it out. But I honestly believe we will concur on the House floor and be done.”