Allows historic horse racing terminals at licensed charitable gaming locations.
Some forms of gambling have been permitted in New Hampshire since 1933, when pari-mutuel betting began, followed by the opening of the Rockingham Park horse track and later the Seabrook dog track.*
We were the first state to have a lottery, which was established in 1964, and in 2017 it generated net revenue of $76 million.
State revenue for gambling goes towards education programs, and since our official lottery began over $1.8 billion has been generated for this purpose.
New Hampshire also permits several other forms of gambling, such as bingo and poker, with a portion of proceeds benefitting charities. An undetermined number of residents also gamble online on illegal gambling websites that are not state regulated.
Keno also became legal in New Hampshire in 2017, with funds going to support full-day kindergarten programs.
To deal with the state's budgetary stresses, worsened by the recent recession, several bills were introduced in the Legislature during the 2009-2012 sessions to legalize video slot machines at race tracks (racinos), certain hotels and resorts, or at state-owned facilities. None of the bills passed in the Legislature, but the issue is still hotly debated because of continuing state budget problems.
A gaming commission formed by then-Gov. John Lynch in 2009 studied the issue for several months and reached the following conclusions in its final report:
- Expanded gaming would generate additional revenues and economic activity, but it would also generate additional societal and economic costs.
- Expansion will increase the number of problem gamblers.
- Proliferation of gaming is a concern, but one with no clear solution.
- New Hampshire needs to review its regulation of gaming.
- A data-driven, proactive analysis about the impact of expanded legalized gaming on the state's image and brand is needed in order to better determine and manage potential risks and opportunities.
As part of the budget compromise in June 2013, the House and Senate convened the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority to study and recommend a regulatory structure for gambling. On December 9, 2013 the Authority revealed a 2014 bill, HB 1633, that included a regulatory structure and the authorization for a 5,000-slot casino. Despite the significant effort legislators dedicated to HB 1633, the House killed the bill in March 2014. The House also killed all other expanded gambling proposals.
In 2015, Sen. Lou D'Allesandro sponsored SB 113, a bill that would authorize two casinos in New Hampshire. It was ultimately killed by the House. HB 169, a bill that raises limits on some types of bets in poker and other games of chance, was signed by Gov. Maggie Hassan in June 2015.
*A law banning live dog racing was passed in 2010.
PROS & CONS
"New Hampshire should authorize one or more casinos."
The state needs the revenue and the alternatives are worse:
- Our legislature began work on our state budget for 2010-2011 facing a budget deficit from existing taxes and expenses estimated at $400 million to $500 million. The final approved and balanced budget included numerous tax increases and spending cuts, but also significant one-time benefits that went away next time around.
- Expanded gambling has the potential to raise hundreds of millions of dollars and solve our budget problems once and for all without any new taxes (such as a sales or income tax) and without bumping up the rates on the many other taxes we have in the state.
- Expanded gambling will create lots of new jobs and draw tourists.
- With the current recession, expanded gambling with new licenses will generate a large numbers of good jobs in our state. Millennium Gaming of Nevada proposed to modernize Rockingham Park at a cost of $450 million creating thousands of jobs, and that was just an estimate from one project.
- Locating gambling sites in various regions of the state will draw tourists to those areas, and could be a major improvement to the economy of the North Country.
The fear of increased crime rates is overblown:
- The fear that a large increase in crime will accompany expanded gambling is not backed up by the facts. FBI data of 2005 show that the crime rate of Las Vegas is below the comparable rates of cities such as Phoenix, Arizona, Orlando, Florida and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In addition, recent proposed legislation would devote some of the funds from gambling to recovery programs for problem gamblers.
- A GAO report in 2000 concluded that "in general, existing data were not sufficient to quantify or define the relationship between gambling and crime... Although numerous studies have explored the relationship between gambling and crime, the reliability of many of these studies is questionable."
"New Hampshire should not authorize one or more casinos."
The gambling revenues are overstated and will not solve our state budget problems:
- Casino tax revenues have not fixed budget problems in other states. Casino states have budget problems no less severe than New Hampshire's and casino revenues are declining nationwide. In fact, racinos may become a tax drain in some states. Maryland passed a racino law and that state has considered using taxpayer money to prop up two bankrupt racetracks — and as of 2011, casino developers had purchased licenses for only half the number of authorized slot machines.
- Of all states with legalized slot machines or casinos, every one has either a sales or income tax: all but five have both.
- Gambling interests are overstating revenue projections. Slots revenue may not arrive in time to fix immediate budget deficits. First license and operating revenues would be received no earlier than about 24 months after a legalization vote (the typical elapsed time in the seven most recent racino states).
Gambling businesses may not be additive - they cannibalize other local businesses:
- Slot casinos of the type being proposed for New Hampshire may not benefit the state's economy and simply cannibalize existing local businesses. A literature survey done for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston states, "[c]asinos that cater to a local market generally do not bring outside money into the economy... [and] may have no net ancillary economic impacts. Residents patronizing such casinos may simply substitute gambling for other goods and services."
Gambling creates many negative social problems and increases crime rates:
- Multiple casino locations may force negative social and economic impacts on many New Hampshire communities. These impacts include: higher rates of gambling addiction, violent crime, domestic abuse, suicide, and increased welfare, social service and criminal justice costs.
- A 2006 study published in The Review of Economics and Statistics found that, by the fifth year after the introduction of a casino, host counties saw rates of robbery, aggravated assault, auto theft, burglary, larceny, and rape increase by an average of 10 percent. The casino-crime link has been shown in several additional studies, with the Review of Economics and Statistics study now used to assess casino impacts in most independent gambling cost-benefit analyses. Gambling advocates often cite older studies which use small sample sizes and less rigorous statistical methods and report no definite link between casinos and crime.
- Gambling addiction treatment fails to solve the problem created by casinos. Six casinos spread around the state would increase baseline pathological gambling disorder by about 1 percent of New Hampshire's adult population. Only 7-12 percent of gambling addicts even attempt to access available addiction treatment services. About half or more of revenue at a typical slots casino is extracted from problem and pathological gamblers, meaning that the state budget would be built around the continuous creation of new gambling addicts to replace those who gamble themselves and their families into bankruptcy.
- Slots are several times more addictive and harmful than existing New Hampshire gambling. Gambling addiction onset is over 3 times faster with slot machines compared with table games, lotteries, or betting on animal racing. Here are the intake statistics from the Rhode Island Gambling Treatment Program: 69% slots, 10% horses or dogs, 9% table games, 8% lottery. Through frequent display of "near misses," slot machines are designed to make players think that they are winning 2 to 5 times more than in reality. Recent brain science shows how these near misses promote gambling addiction.
Allows historic horse racing terminals at licensed charitable gaming locations.
Expands the hours in which games of chance may be operated, from 11am-1am to 7am-4am. This bill also increases the value of game buy-ins. The Senate amended the bill to establish a committee to study charitable gaming.
Allows secondary game operators to prorate their license fees for the first year of a license. This bill also allows secondary game operators to submit a background check every other year.
Requires a member of the sponsoring charitable organization to be present during games of chance at least once during the contract period. A the time of this bill's submission, a member of the sponsoring charitable organization must be present at least once per day.
If a municipality fails to approve Keno two years in a row, this bill prohibits the municipality from voting on it for another five years.
Makes various changes to the laws governing charitable gambling. For example, this bill changes the time period that charitable organization licenses are viable, from within twelve months to within one calendar year.
Increases the maximum price of Lucky 7 tickets from $0.50 to $1, but requires locations to still offer a $0.50 ticket.
Allows historic horse racing terminals at licensed racetracks and games of chance facilities.
Requires the Lottery Commission to notify the Department of Education about revenue received from Keno each fiscal year.
Revises the number of days a charitable organization may operate bingo, from 10 to 16 days per month and 120 to 192 days per year.
Ends the system of funding full-day kindergarten programs through keno, and instead includes full-day kindergarten students in the calculation of per-pupil state education funding for all students in grades K-12. Keno revenue would instead go to school building aid.
Amends the formula used to determine the fee a racetrack will pay to the municipality where the facility is located. Currently, New Hampshire only has one licensed racetrack, Seabrook Greyhound Park. This bill would likely lower the fee revenue the town of Seabrook receives. The House amended the bill to instead give the town the option to collect a lower fee if they so choose.
Authorizes one smaller and one larger casino with video lottery and table gaming. The casinos would pay an initial ten-year license fee of $40 million and a tax of 35% on gross slot machine revenue and 18% on gross table game revenue. This bill also allows each casino to offer sports betting in person and online, with a 12% tax on sports betting revenue. Some of the revenue would go to towns hosting or neighboring the casino, and some of the revenue goes to treat problem gambling. About $25 million would go to all New Hampshire towns and cities through "revenue sharing" payments. The Senate amended the bill to lower the initial license fee for the smaller casino to $20 million.
Increases the number of days a charitable organization may offer bingo, from 10 to 16 a month.
Establishes a system within the Lottery Commission for sports betting, including online betting. A town or city would have to vote to approve retail sports gaming operations. Revenue from sports betting would go to the Education Trust Fund. If betting started in 2021, the Lottery Commission estimates a range of $1.5 to $7.5 million in annual revenue.
Lowers the commission paid to keno operators, from 8% to 5% of proceeds.
Prohibits the operation of games of chance within 40 miles of Belmont, Berlin, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Keene, Lebanon, Manchester, Nashua, Rochester, Salem, or Seabrook. There is an exception for licenses issued prior to December 31, 2018.
Allows charitable organizations registered in the same municipality as the game operator to have 15 game dates per year, rather than just 10.
Repeals the keno law passed in 2017, including the system to use keno revenue to fund full-day kindergarten.
Establishes a committee to study the use and location of Lucky 7 machines.
Raises the maximum payout for bingo games at private campgrounds and hotels, from $1,000 to $2,000. The Senate amended the bill to allow Keno and Lucky 7 tickets to be sold until 1 a.m.
Allows charitable organizations to hold a raffle without a permit so long as the raffle lasts 12 hours or less. The House and Senate amended the bill to also revise the yearly limit on charitable gaming licenses.
Defines gaming consultants and establishes licensing provisions. The House amended the bill to more narrowly regulate consultants for games of bingo and lucky 7.
Allows Lucky 7 tickets to be sold where licensed games of chance are operated. At the time of this bill's submission, Lucky 7 ticket sales are limited to bingo halls and fraternal clubs.
Authorizes historic horse racing games at charitable gambling venues.
Authorizes one smaller and one larger casino with video lottery and table gaming. The casinos would pay an initial ten-year license fee of $40 million and a tax of 35% on gross slot machine revenue and 18% on gross table game revenue. The Legislature would choose how to distribute most of this revenue, provided that some of the revenue goes to towns hosting or neighboring the casino, and some of the revenue goes to treat problem gambling.
Deletes the requirement that state funding for kindergarten be prorated if revenue raised through keno is insufficient to fully fund the grants. At the time of this bill's submission, the state fully funds all half-day kindergarten programs, but only provides additional funding to full-day kindergarten programs based on revenue collected through keno. The House and Senate completely amended the bill to instead allow keno in unincorporated places and cigar bars.
Allows historic horse racing. The Senate amended the bill to instead extend the license for simulcast horse racing at a location in Cheshire County, provided that the location conducts a live horse race within two years of obtaining the license.
Authorizes one smaller and one larger casino with video lottery and table gaming. The smaller casino would pay an initial ten-year license fee of $40 million, and the larger casino would pay an initial ten-year license fee of $80 million. The casinos would pay a tax of 35% on gross slot machine revenue and 18% on gross table game revenue. The Legislature would choose how to distribute this revenue, provided that some of the revenue goes to towns hosting or neighboring the casino, and some of the revenue goes to treat problem gambling.
Doubles the maximum price of Lucky 7 tickets.
Allows poker games in private residences so long as there is no benefit for the host.
Increases the limits on wagers at charitable gaming venues from $4 to $10.
Makes some changes to the facilities licenses for charitable gaming. For example, this bill removes the limit on facilities licenses that may be issued annually.
Prohibits employers who are game operators from receiving any distribution from any employee tip pool.
Decreases the pari-mutuel tax from 1.25% (horse racing) and 1.5% (dog racing) to 0.5%of the total contributions.
Allows keno games in New Hampshire, with local approval. 8% of keno proceeds would go to the venue licensed to host the game. The remainder would go to school funding and gambling addiction prevention and treatment.
Allows online gambling.
Regulates online fantasy sports. As the bill was introduced, fantasy sport operators would pay an annual fee of up to $5,000 and a 5% tax on revenue (which may be credited against other business taxes). The amended bill keeps regulations and requires fantasy sports operators to register with the state, but does not include any fees or taxes.
Permits poker games in private residences so long as there is no benefit to the host.
Establishes a commission to review and make recommendations for changing the charitable gaming laws in New Hampshire.
Repeals the prohibition on many types of gambling.
Allows for the establishment of state sports lottery games, in which the winners are determined based on the outcome of any professional or collegiate sporting event.
Increases the amount of chips a player may buy during a "table stakes" game.
Creates a single casino with video lottery and table gaming, to be located at Rockingham Park in Salem, NH. A tax of 35% of gross slot machine revenue and 18% of gross table game revenue would go to the state with dedicated portions of the funds going to addiction prevention programs and to Salem and neighboring communities.
Authorizes two casinos in New Hampshire. One destination casino would pay a $80 million license fee; a smaller casino would pay $40 million to the state. SB 113 also earmarks $25 million in casino profits for distribution to all New Hampshire municipalities.
Allows some larger bets in poker (current bet limit is $4).
Defines poker as a game of skill, which would exempt poker from some of the state's gambling laws.
Allows the Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission to issue provisional secondary game operator licenses.
Makes various changes to the application process for game operators in New Hampshire.
Authorizes keno games licensed by the Lottery Commission.
Allows race tracks where games of chance are held to apply for cocktail licenses. The Liquor Commission states of the ten licensed gaming facilities in New Hampshire, eight of them already hold some form of liquor license. Only two facilities also have a race track. The Commission is not able to determine the exact fiscal impact of this bill on state revenue, but the impact is probably minimal.
Allows video lottery machines in establishments with a liquor license, distributes proceeds of video lottery machines to the education trust fund, and offsets the education property tax accordingly.
Allows for the operation of slot machines by persons currently possessing a license to operate table games at a gaming location.
Authorizes one casino in New Hampshire, regulated by the Gaming Commission.
Authorizes two casinos in New Hampshire, regulated by the Gaming Commission.
Authorizes six casinos, regulated by the Gaming Oversight Authority.
Authorizes six casinos, regulated by the Gaming Regulatory Commission.
Tightens the state's charitable gaming laws, for example requiring background checks for charitable gambling operators.
Eases the $4 bet limit in poker games at charitable gaming venues.
Changes the fee for charitable gaming licenses from $500 every year to $50,000 every five years.
Defines poker as a game of skill, which would exempt poker from some of the state's gambling laws.
Authorizes a casino.
Authorizes three casinos in New Hampshire.
Should NH authorize one or more casinos?
NH legalized sports betting in 2019. Bets have to be placed through approved vendors. The NH Lottery Commission estimates the first bets will be placed in January. So far, voters in Franklin, Laconia, Berlin, Claremont, Manchester and Somersworth have approved allowing sports betting in their communities.
Town voters will need to wait until March to decide on the issue. If you have an opinion on whether sports betting should be on your town warrant, speak with your selectboard or council.
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