With some 33 hours to spare, New Hampshire crossed the sports betting finish line in 2019, becoming the 14th state to accept legal wagers when DraftKings Sportsbook went live on Monday afternoon.
Rhode Island is the only other state in New England to offer legal sports betting. Maine legislators passed a bill in June 2019, but Gov. Janet Mills declined to sign it, leaving the legislation in limbo pending a reintroduction in 2020. Connecticut and Massachusetts have both introduced bills and are considered realistic candidates for passage in the new year.
But for now, New Hampshire will siphon consumer dollars and tax revenue from those nearby states, with DraftKings enjoying, in essence, a monopoly.
Exclusivity for DraftKings
In October 2018, DraftKings was outspoken against the idea of a single-operator system when it was being proposed in Washington, D.C.
Guess the @DraftKings New Hampshire narrative is different than D.C.
Griffin Finan testimony back in Oct 2018:
"Our concern is that the model under consideration here today would grant a single operator a monopoly on offering online sports betting in the District of Columbia." pic.twitter.com/O6onq40pXt
— Alfonso Straffon 🇨🇷🇺🇸🇲🇽 (@astraffon) December 31, 2019
Not surprisingly, the daily fantasy sports giant’s tune changed after it won the sole contract for sports wagering in the Granite State.
Quite a few bookmakers — 13 in all — submitted applications in New Hampshire, and the New Hampshire Lottery, according to the bill signed by Gov. Chris Sununu, could have awarded up to five licenses. But DraftKings’ unique bid included an offer to tax revenues at an exorbitant 51%, while lowering that figure to 21% if four other companies were approved. So the Lottery elected to grant them, effectively, a monopoly on online/mobile sports betting.
(The New Hampshire Lottery’s operator, Intralot, also is permitted to offer sports betting, but only in the form of multi-game parlay cards.)
While some are concerned that DraftKings Sportsbook will not offer customer-friendly odds due to the lack of competition and the high tax rate, DK’s track record in other states (the online sportsbook is also available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Indiana) suggests its New Hampshire odds will be fairly consistent with its odds elsewhere.
Still, New Hampshire bettors won’t be able to line shop and probably can’t expect as many generous promotions and odds boosts as consumers in multi-sportsbook states enjoy.
Betting on Brady and Belichick
Gov. Sununu had the honor of placing the ceremonial first bet on the app, choosing to back the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl.
— Timothy P. Lang Sr. (@tlangsr) December 31, 2019
“Sports betting is the right bet for New Hampshire,” Sununu said on Monday. “We moved fast to get this done by partnering with a world-class company to provide a first-rate customer service experience, and the state is poised to dominate the market. The launch of sports betting will also benefit our education system — a win for our kids.”
Sununu, New Hampshire’s 82nd governor, risked $82 on the Pats, despite the fact that they enter the playoffs in the rare position of needing to win four postseason games to claim the title.
Should the Patriots go all the way, DK figures to get off to a rough start in the state, as the Rhode Island sportsbooks did last year. It seems one $5 bettor is already cleaning DraftKings’ clock:
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) December 31, 2019
DraftKings is headquartered in Boston and plans to open an NH office. The company intends to operate as many as 10 retail books in the state.
New Hampshire’s sports betting law prohibits betting on college teams from the state or on college games taking place within state lines. This figures not to have a major impact on the state’s tax revenue, as New Hampshire is not known for its powerhouse college programs.
One detail of the law that could increase the tax revenue: The legal sports betting age in New Hampshire is 18.
Photo by Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com