New Hampshire Senator Tim Lang recently confirmed that he will not be filing an online casino bill in the coming year. This announcement comes as a rather surprising development, seeing as New Hampshire belonged to the group of states that seemed most likely to legalize online casino gambling.
Owing to the increased support for internet gaming legislation, particularly from the charitable casinos that operate physically within the state, Lang had initially expressed optimism about the bill during the summer. Due to this, he was confident that the bill which had been brought before the New Hampshire legislative house this year, would eventually be passed in 2024.
However, with the recent development, it seems that all internet gaming legislation supporters in New Hampshire would have to wait for at least one more year for any progress on the online casino bill.
It would seem that the chances of the bill passing were very slim, especially when you take a look at the bill’s history. Right from when it was introduced, the bill faced steep opposition, especially from the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos.
The opposition grounded their position not only on the fact that their businesses would be ruined, but that the charities that are beneficiaries of their proceeds would be affected too. New Hampshire operates a charity model where a portion of all gambling proceeds from casino operators in the state are collected and donated to charities. And in 2022, donations reportedly accrued over $20 million.
However, the New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee was concerned that the legalization and inevitable growth of online casino gambling would inevitably cannibalize charitable casino earnings and reduce their proceeds. Those who supported the bill argued that introducing the new option of online casino gambling would not reduce the amount of those who engage in physical gambling but rather increase it overall.
The online casino option affords even more people the opportunity, as the demand is large enough and currently underserved. The barred bill proposed to legalize the operations of private entities who offered casino games such as roulette, blackjack, and poker online to individuals aged 17 and above in the state.
With no limits to wager sizes for online games, forecasts from the New Hampshire Lottery projected that online casino games could generate up to $25 million within the first 3 years of their operations.
Senator Tim Lang further proposed that revenue from online casino gambling will not only fund scholarships for community college students, but also enhance consumer protection. Since a lot of online casino games are already available online on illegal websites, it only makes more sense to legalize these games. This will not only protect New Hampshire residents but proceeds from the casinos’ profits could support the local economy.
The bill failed on its first attempt by a single vote. But eventually was supported by the New Hampshire Senate President Jeb Bradley and it passed.
However, the most recent blow to the bill’s progress was delivered by the House’s Ways and Means Committee which not only stopped its passage, but also prohibited it from being brought up the following year as well.
“Due to the New Hampshire House using a procedural motion called ‘indefinite postponement,’ I am barred from bringing the topic back up in 2024,” Senator Lang told reporters. To move forward in light of the indefinite postponement, the Senate has told Lang that he would have to file a bill that was “substantially different” from its predecessor, but the determination of what that would be still lies with the house.
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