Nice for state education and nice for DraftKings, but what about loyal NH bettors . . .
Imagine if you only had ONE location or ONE website to place your daily sports wagers? That is a reality for sports bettors in New Hampshire under a current state system with a big *asterisk* to consider.
New Hampshire has adopted their own rules in terms of taxation, funding, and basic betting legislation. A state right given to them since PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) was reversed by the Supreme Court in May 2018.
The most controversial decision they made was deciding upon granting DraftKings a unique six-year contract to become the state's sole operator. the legislature gave them a pathway to run their two current onsite locations, plus awarded them their mobile wagering system as well. A virtual monopoly for the sportsbook monolith to control all sports betting operations within the state.
DraftKings was selected through a competitive bidding process, granting the New Hampshire Lottery the largest financial package, the highest-rated mobile sports betting app and implementation timeline to get started. Under the approved contract, the NH Lottery receives 50% of gaming revenue, aimed for education in the state.
Governor Chris Sununu signed legislation back in July 2019, authorizing the NH Lottery to conduct sports betting, which will allow for as many as a total of 10 potential physical sportsbook locations along with mobile sports betting.
Currently, one of two onsite locations exists in Seabrook NH and is nicknamed "The Brook". Management has plans to cultivate it as a gathering spot for more social opportunity once the cloud of COVID-19 is totally cleared. A second DraftKings in-person sports betting location opened this past September at the Filotimo Casino and Restaurant in Manchester, which is also home to the South Side Tavern.
Since beginning operation, the New Hampshire Lottery reports 52,000 people have signed up and wagered more than $200 million on bets. Sports gambling has netted the state $4.6 million in tax revenue since launching last December.
Since reviewing the comprehensive proposal to choose one operator over a year ago many competing sportsbooks felt shortchanged as if there was something fishy going on leading to the ultimate decision rewarding DraftKings. It was announced shortly thereafter that DraftKings would co-brand its product with the New Hampshire Lottery, which was a key issue for the Lottery when it opened the RFP order.
"It's been a rush job," said one undisclosed industry source. "And by them rushing it, they are basically short-changing the entire RFP process. It wasn’t entirely fair."
What's Fair for New Hampshire Bettors?
Unfortunately, truly not fair was any discussion that involved the sports bettors of New Hampshire. Especially those bound by geofencing for online wagering within the state. By being forced to accept only one operator providing service, they could not obtain the same competitive advantage bettors rightfully enjoy in most every other US state.
This is where the big *asterisk* comes into play. While state legislators keep promoting the benefits of licensed and regulated wagering for New Hampshire, they continually provide a logical inventive for smart and experienced sports bettors to remain with proven offshore wagering sources.
Currently all state residents and visitors to New Hampshire can visit any offshore gambling site to choose among a competitive list of sportsbooks any day, including those offering several line choices and bonus opportunities.
By offering only one choice in DraftKings, they would be restricting a bettor to accepting only one potential line option. For at least the next six years, any New Hampshire sports bettor has legitimate motivation to shop their games at other top online sportsbooks.
In comparison, states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Colorado offer their residents as many as eight to ten sportsbook apps and, as might be expected, handle is exploding. Besides the opportunity to shop lines, bettors can also take advantage of large sign-up bonuses now in effect.
Washington D.C. Not Much Better for Bettors
In a similar fashion to New Hampshire, Washington D.C. also made an unpopular choice in rewarding lottery company Intralot the control to begin sportsbook operation within their district.
The large company has had its share of controversies, both in DC and also around the world, but the DC Council felt it was the best choice when Intralot was approved as their sole provider for an online sports gambling app named GamebetDC. That decision would come back to haunt D.C., as well as Intralot.
DC initially gave Intralot control, possibly knowing the company may have either withheld or exaggerated key details about its activity to acquire the contract. All subsequent negative results plus a lawsuit could not change their minds. The fact remains that their sports gambling app, GambetDC, is failing while virtually every other U.S. state's online apps are succeeding.
It won't be to D.C.'s rescue that William Hill has done reasonably well opening up their temporary onsite sportsbook location at the Capital One Arena with ambitious plans to fully maximize opportunity once COVID-19 subsides and the arena allows all fans inside.
Intralot wants to put gambling kiosks everywhere the DC Lottery is offered, hopefully by early 2021. However, the fact that an online sports gambling monopoly cannot perform better than a single-location retail sportsbook speaks volumes about initial results for GamebetDC.
I would imagine other U.S. states mapping out their prospective sports wagering plans are carefully watching New Hampshire and Washington DC. But like any other business forecast, we hope they learn to keep their customer's needs as a priority and allow multiple sports betting outlets to compete for player loyalty.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.