States to Watch in 2024: New Hampshire — Another iGaming Monopoly in the Making?

New Hampshire’s chances of passing an online casino bill in 2024 are disproportionate to the amount of attention it has been getting. That’s because of its small population and the likelihood that any potential iGaming market will end up a monopoly. In that regard, it stands to be to 2024 what Rhode Island was to 2023. Its success would be much more exciting for state residents than for the industry, which has its eyes on bigger prizes.

New Hampshire legalized in 2019. However, it took the unusual approach of letting operators bid for market access, effectively setting their own tax rate. That process resulted in DraftKings (DraftKings 44,72 +1,15%) as the only winning bidder. It promised the state a 51% share of revenue so long as it holds a monopoly, dropping to 21% the moment any competition is allowed in.

New Hampshire’s 2023 Bill Offered Table Games Only

In 2023, state Sen. Tim Lang introduced a bill to legalize online casinos. It made its way through the Senate but died in committee after arriving in the House. It may be just as well that it did.

Although Lang’s 2023 online casino bill wouldn’t technically have legislated a monopoly, the likely outcome would have been the same. Online sports betting and online casino games are worth more than the sum of their parts. As the only sports betting operator, DraftKings would probably be willing to offer more for online casino access than any potential competitors.

More importantly, the bill that passed in the Senate was a poor compromise. In order to secure the necessary votes, Lang agreed to remove online slots from the bill. Although DraftKings, as the beneficiary, might have considered that better than nothing, it would not have created a viable market for the state. Slots are the biggest draw for any online casino. Without slots, players would be likely to turn away from the legal market and play instead at black market offshore sites where all the games are available.

What to Expect From New Hampshire in 2024

Sen. Lang has pre-filed a Legislative Service Request, indicating that he and five cosponsors plan on resuming the effort. Sens. Bill Gannon, Howard Pearl, and David Watters were quick to put their names on the placeholder. Sens. Daniel Innis and Donna Soucy have since added theirs.

Based on the 2023 outcome, it is likely that the bill will again make it through the Senate. The bigger question is whether it will do so with slots intact or whether the Senate will once again propose a table-games-only market.

The real challenge will again be in the House of Representatives, and specifically the House Ways and Means Committee.

As is the case in other states, the primary objection to New Hampshire online casinos is the idea that they’ll cannibalize retail gaming revenue. In the case of New Hampshire, that means the state’s charitable casinos.

The big problem is that the chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee is Laurie Sanborn, whose husband owns one of the casinos in question.

Andy Sanborn is currently facing an investigation that could result in the loss of Concord Casino’s license. That process has been slow. In the meantime, Laurie Sanborn has stepped down from the House Casino Study Commission, but not from her positions as Speaker Pro Tempore or on the Ways and Means Committee.

Unless House Republicans cross the aisle to join Democrats in calling for her removal, the outcome in 2024 is likely to be the same as it was this year.

More States to Watch in 2024

Bonus News Managing Editor Alex Weldon created several forecasts for States to Watch in 2024.

Check out the other installments:

* New Hampshire Online Casino Hopes Likely Dead for 2024

About the Author

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon is an online gambling industry analyst with nearly ten years of experience. He currently serves as Casino News Managing Editor for Bonus.com, part of the Catena Media Network. Other gambling news sites he has contributed to include PlayUSA and Online Poker Report, and his writing has been cited in The Atlantic.
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