New Hampshire lawmakers are set to consider an online casino gaming bill later this month, potentially the only such US legislation poised to pass into law in 2023.
The bill advanced in a Senate committee earlier this week. The whole Senate is scheduled to vote on the measure March 30.
Assuming Senate passage, the full House of Representatives would also have to approve the bill. If it passes both chambers of the GOP-controlled General Court, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu would likely sign the bill into law. Sununu was an outspoken supporter of the state’s mobile wagering legislation.
If passed, New Hampshire bettors would have access to legal online casino games including poker, blackjack, cards, roulette, craps and baccarat, all of which are specifically mentioned in the bill. The legislation also extends to other games of chance, which could extend to digital slots.
Possible market structure
The current proposal would create a structure similar to the state’s sports betting market.
New Hampshire solicited bids for sportsbook operators, receiving offers from most major US companies. Boston, Massachusetts-based DraftKings won a de facto monopoly by agreeing to a 51% tax rate on gross gaming revenue, significantly higher than any other operator, in exchange for market exclusivity.
A state legislative analysis of the iCasino bill projected between three and five operators would enter the market, bidding an average of around a 35% tax rate. Online casino gaming generates significantly higher margins the sports betting, which would likely entice most major US operators to place bids.
It’s too early to tell which operators would bid, let alone earn licensure, but DraftKings would be the likeliest candidate to offer whatever rate guarantees market access. BetMGM, the US national iCasino leader by handle market share, as well as FanDuel, the nation’s leading sportsbook platform by handle, are two other leading candidates.
Other major casino brands, including Caesars, Barstool parent company Penn Entertainment and WynnBet parent Wynn, which operates a Boston-area retail casino, would be among the other companies likely to seek licensure.
If passed, iGaming would begin on or around April 1, 2024 and will take approximately 36 months to come to maturity, according to the analysts’ report. The analysis projects the iGaming market for New Hampshire will not initially be as strong as other established markets, due to a comparatively smaller customer database, but it is assumed that the New Hampshire iGaming market will be roughly on par with those markets on a per capita basis in roughly three years.
Best remaining iGaming proposal
The New Hampshire iCasino bill has solidified itself as the best remaining 2023 online casino gaming legalization effort.
New York, Iowa, Indiana and Maryland have also introduced comprehensive iGaming bills in their respective legislative sessions this year, but all these efforts have either already been rejected by lawmakers or appear to have little chance of passing. It remains to be seen if New Hampshire can clear through the legislature this year, but it has already progressed further than most other states.
Only four US jurisdictions – New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan and West Virginia – offer full, competitive iCasino offerings. Connecticut also has online casino games, but only permits DraftKings and FanDuel to take bets. Delaware has legal iCasino gaming, but only through a lone, government-run platform. Nevada, which only permits real money online poker, is the only other state with any form of legal online gaming beyond sports betting.
Unlike mobile sports betting, which has been legalized in more than 20 states, online games such as slots and table offerings have been much more difficult to achieve politically. Opponents have worried about gambling addiction with mobile gaming available virtually anywhere at any time of the day or night.
Some casino gaming stakeholders have also been opposed, concerned these offerings will cannibalize brick-and-mortar casino offerings. In-person casinos, and their accompanying dining, shopping and entertainment options, also employ several hundred thousand Americans across the country and have strong political support from unions in many states.