With an eye toward capturing as much out-of-state money — read: Massachusetts — as possible, seven New Hampshire towns are preparing to put a matter of sports betting to the voters. The latest, according to the Manchester Union-Leader, is Nashua, a border town that sits just north of Massachusetts, minutes from the Bay State’s fifth-biggest city, Lowell, and an hour from the state capital of Boston.
The New Hampshire Office of the Lottery currently has an open Request for Proposal as it searches for sports betting operator partners. The law passed in July allows for the licensure of up to five mobile platforms as well as 10 physical sportsbook locations. With respect to those locations, the law requires that a majority of a municipality’s voters approve in response to the question, “Shall we allow the operation of sports book retail locations within the town or city?”
Nashua is the biggest border city in the state.
“The best kind of money is out-of-state money,” McIntyre told the Union-Leader. “So I can’t negotiate contracts ahead of time, but certainly that is where our heads are at.”
NH has history of luring Mass residents
Nashua’s Board of Alderman voted Tuesday to put the question of sports betting to voters on the Nov. 5 ballot. The city joins Manchester, Laconia, Franklin, Dover, Concord and Berlin in wanting sports betting, while Claremont, Portsmouth and Somersworth are all also reportedly considering getting voter approval. Manchester is the biggest city in the state, and is less than hour’s drive to Boston. Portsmouth, located on the coast, is tucked just below the border of Maine, presenting another opportunity to capture out-of-state dollars.
— NH Patch Politics (@NHPatchPolitics) September 10, 2019
New Hampshire has long done all that it can to draw Massachusetts residents north — the state has no sales tax, long sold liquor on Sundays when Massachusetts didn’t, and had a lottery years before Massachusetts did. The state’s borders are dotted with liquor stores and lottery outlets. And, now, if things play out the way McIntyre is hoping, sportsbooks will be added to the mix.
New Hampshire has about a dozen charity casinos, including the River Casino and Sports Bar in Nashua, where General Manager Jim Rafferty is very enthusiastic about bringing sports betting on board.
“Nashua has led the way in Keno, and we think we should lead the way here in sports betting,” Rafferty told the Union-Leader.
Nashua lawmakers will hold a town hall meeting to get voter comments about sports betting on Oct. 8. Meanwhile, the Lottery will likely be working through RFP submissions at that point. The deadline for submission is later this month, with the goal of going live with sports betting in the first quarter of 2020.
New Hampshire is the second New England state to legalize sports betting after Rhode Island did so in the summer of 2018. Rhode Island launched its two physical sportsbooks in around Thanksgiving 2018, and its mobile app earlier this month. Massachusetts and Connecticut lawmakers have avidly discussed sports betting, but neither have been able to move forward. Both states have held hearings and done sports betting studies, but have failed to settle on enough of a concept of what sports betting would look like to get it to a vote.