There should be few surprises later this month when the state of New Hampshire gets back Requests for Proposals from potential sports betting operators. The Office of the Lottery last week published the 116 questions posed by potential operators, along with answers. The questions ranged from the bold to the boring.
New Hampshire, which legalized sports betting in July, gave potential operators until Aug. 26 to ask questions, and the Lottery took a week to review and answer questions. Though which potential operators sent in questions and how many were not released, it’s highly likely that DraftKings, based in nearby Boston, rival FanDuel, Penn National, William Hill, and other big-name gaming companies were in the mix.
There were also some hints about who the potential operators are in the questions — question No. 11 makes reference to the agreement not being “funded with monies of the United States,” which implies an international operator is considering bids. Likewise, there were multiple questions about whether or not operators must own or lease physical locations, rather than building their own bricks-and-mortar sportsbooks, or being subject to some kind of “tethering” relationship.
Launch-date goal: Early 2020
Among the most audacious questions was No. 48 — “Do you plan to provide iLottery player database access to all sports betting agents in the state?” The Lottery’s answer was the same as it was for many of the questions — let’s wait and and see.
If there was a theme to the answers, it was just that. Throughout the process, Lottery chief Charlie McIntyre has said he wants to see what lands on his desk and then make some of the key decisions, including whether or not the Lottery will share its database, if the Lottery will “operate as its own agent” for one of the five available mobile skins, and whether or not a new operator must integrate with a single sign-on (which would “create functionality for players to sign on once to access their iLottery accounts or sports wagering accounts.”)
NEW: Consumers will soon be able to wager on sports in New Hampshire. Thanks to @GovChrisSununu’s signature, NH is now the 3rd previously non-gaming jurisdiction and 18th jurisdiction overall to authorize #sportsbetting. Our full statement: https://t.co/rtwWrtVIBC pic.twitter.com/y4245cxINt
— American Gaming Association (@AmericanGaming) July 12, 2019
To quote a source, the New Hampshire Lottery chose to “punt” on some of the answers, likely with the idea of weighing what would-be operators have to offer, rather than shutting the door on unique solutions early in the process.
Some questions were simple clarifications. Potential operators asked for the definitions of a “jurisdiction,” a “similar market,” and “Tier III” wagers, and clarity on a planned launch date. The answer to that question remains the same — New Hampshire is aiming for launch in the first quarter of 2020, but not later than Sept. 1, 2020, and the state will allow sportsbooks to go live as they are ready, and not set a date for a group to launch.
Branding a hot topic
The Lottery clarified some details through its answers: funds must deposited while a bettor is physically located in the state of New Hampshire, bets must be settled within the state’s borders, and existing sports betting brands may be used for both mobile and physical sportsbooks in the state.
Peppered throughout the list of questions were many about branding, and the hottest topic appeared to be whether or not the Lottery would have its own branded mobile app. The new law allows for 10 physical sportsbooks and up to five mobile platforms. Physical locations are subject to voter approval.
Dover, New Hampshire is the first NH city to express interest in having retail sports betting establishments approved by a voter referendum. This is a requirement under the NH law. Look for Manchester and Nashua to pursue similar ballot questions. https://t.co/yuLboTFkEC
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) August 14, 2019
Sources from several potential operators believe the Lottery will have its own branded app — and, in fact, point to the RFP itself which seeks a Lottery vendor — but it’s unclear if the state ultimately will have five mobile platforms or if the Lottery will choose to award fewer.
Below is a look at some of the questions and answers:
Q; (No. 21) Should Proposers use the existing NPI wallet for sports wagering online, mobile and retail operations?
A: Proposers may propose an integration with the existing NPI player wallet but are not required to do so. NHLC is open to receiving proposals that contain a separate player wallet and payment solution.
Q: (No. 44) Can we know the percentage that we will be retained and also if it’s applicable on the stake or GGR (Gaming Gross Revenue)?
A: The percentage of GGR retained by the Proposer will be the subject of the Price Proposal after review and scoring of Technical Proposals.
Q: (No. 47) Will the lottery operate as its own agent for one of the 5 mobile agents or will the lottery only use B2C operator skins as agents?
A: NHLC is open to accepting a proposal similar to existing lottery products in which NHLC is the “front facing” operator in partnership with Proposer.
Q: (No. 50) Do you plan to have consistent branding with the mobile product?
A: NHLC is open to different branding concepts. It is not a requirement that all channels be branded in the same manner. Proposers should offer the branding that they believe is best along with any variations they can provide.
Prior to releasing the RFP McIntyre said he’d fielded inquiries from more than 20 potential operators. Final bids are due Sept. 20.
New Hampshire is one of two New England states to have legalized sports betting. Rhode Island was the first in the region to legalize sports betting, and just last week, the Rhode Island Lottery went live with its mobile app, one day ahead of the 2019 NFL season.
New Hampshire does not have a mature gaming infrastructure, though it does have a dozen charity based casinos and one simulcast dog-and-horse-racing facility. It joins Washington, D.C. and Tennessee as states with limited gaming history to legalize sports betting in the last 12 months.