New Hampshire State Gambling Guide
New Hampshire is void of both commercial and tribal casinos. This isn't to say that they completely lack gambling, though.
The Granite State has some smaller gaming venues that offer blackjack, craps and poker. But these strip mall and bar-based clubs aren't exactly what most people envision with regard to casinos.
Given New Hampshire's lack of casinos, it's no surprise that they don't offer a regulated online gaming market. But what is surprising, is that there are serious efforts to legalize the activity.
When can we expect this to happen? We'll cover New Hampshire's potential regulated iGaming market in the next section.
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Online Gambling and New Hampshire Law
New Hampshire hasn't taken a stance for or against Internet gaming. Instead, they're in a grey zone that has opened them up to offshore casinos.
Before we continue discussing this matter, let's look at how section 637:2 II(d) of New Hampshire's constitution defines gaming:
"To risk something of value upon a future contingent event not under one's control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that something of value will be received in the event of a certain outcome."
Under New Hampshire law, any form of gambling not approved by the state is illegal; but the lack of words like "computer," "Internet" and "mobile device" leaves some room for interpretation here.
Let's discuss these interpretations below while answering some important questions about New Hampshire iGaming.
Is Online Gambling Legal in New Hampshire?
Internet gaming isn't legal in the Granite State. But as discussed above, it's not explicitly illegal either.
The U.S. government has never banned iGaming on a federal level. The closest thing to a ban is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which prevents American financial institutions form processing iGaming transactions.
Many offshore casinos have found a legal way around this, including the unregulated cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin.
Another point worth mentioning is the Federal Wire Act of 1961, which bans certain types of gaming across state lines.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice was asked to give their interpretation of the Federal Wire Act, and they stated that it only applies to sports betting, meaning online casino games and poker sites aren't inherently illegal.
Ultimately, the federal government leaves it up to states to decide how to handle Internet gaming, and New Hampshire hasn't banned the activity in their criminal code.
Can I Get Arrested for Gambling Online in New Hampshire?
The Granite State has never arrested anybody for gambling online, and we don't foresee them doing so at any point in the future.
In fact, it's very rare for any state to pursue legal action against an online gambler - even when the activity is banned.
New Hampshire generally tolerates Internet gaming and doesn't even have any criminal language aimed at operators. Therefore, we can't see a realistic scenario where you'd be arrested for iGaming in New Hampshire.
Are Offshore Gaming Sites Legal in New Hampshire?
Offshore casinos are mostly located in Antigua & Barbuda, Costa Rica, Curacao and Panama. These jurisdictions offer licenses to offshore companies along with mild oversight.
These licenses do not, however, apply to New Hampshire or any other U.S. state. This means that offshore gaming sites aren't technically legal in the Granite State.
New Hampshire fails to directly address individuals or companies who offer Internet gaming. In fact, we don't see one piece of language in their criminal code that covers online gaming operators.
Much like iGaming itself, offshore casinos also lie in New Hampshire's grey area.
Are Offshore Gaming Sites Safe?
The troubling thing about offshore casinos is that they aren't subject to U.S. government regulations. This means that an online casino or sportsbook could close up in the middle of the night and avoid honoring player deposits.
This doomsday scenario is really rare in the gaming world. Successful Internet casinos and poker sites need repeat business, which is only gained through good service.
Follow the tips provided under the next question in order to choose quality offshore gaming sites that won't rip you off.
How do I Find a Good Online Casino?
Here are some crucial factors that you want to look at before depositing at an offshore site:
- Longevity & Reputability
- Plenty of Games / Lines
- Welcome Bonus w / Reasonable Requirements
- Frequent Promotions
- Customer Service
- Deposit Options
These two aspects go hand-in-hand because you want a reputable site that's been in business for a while. The longer track record of success they have, the higher the chances are that you're dealing with a good company.
Everybody loves variety, and this is why it pays to pick an online casino/poker site with a wide range of games and a sportsbook that offers countless lines.
Any decent online casino or poker room will offer a signup bonus. But how realistic are the wagering requirements behind earning the bonus? Lighter requirements mean that you have a better chance to collect your bonus cash.
Promos are great because they offer you an opportunity to earn extra cash. This is why you should check out the promotions section at any online casino, poker room or sportsbook you're interested in.
Casino and poker tournaments are a fun way to spice up your gaming. Check to see what kind of tourneys are offered at prospective casinos and poker sites.
Every quality gaming site should have good customer support. If a company doesn't offer this, then it's a huge red flag.
One more crucial aspect to look at is the banking options. Most New Hampshire-friendly casinos and poker rooms take Bitcoin, Visa and/or Mastercard.
Breaking down what is or isn't legal in New Hampshire. Gambling Venues in New Hampshire
Where to gamble in the state of New Hampshire. The History of Gaming Laws in New Hampshire
A brief history of New Hampshire laws regarding gambling. New Hampshire Gambling FAQs
A list of questions asked about gambling in New Hampshire Additional Information
Still have questions? Check out these links. The Future of Gambling in New Hampshire
What does the future of gambling look like in New Hampshire?
More Gambling Laws in New Hampshire
Most U.S. states have either commercial casinos or tribal casino - But not New Hampshire, which remains without a major casino within it's borders.
In 2009, Gov. John Lynch created the New Hampshire Gaming Study Commission to assess the economic and social impact of commercial casinos. The following year, the commission stated that casinos create new jobs, but they also bring about social problems.
In 2012, Gov. Maggie Hassan promised during her election campaign that she would work to get casinos legalized. Hassan lived up to her campaign promise in office, but her efforts failed to garner the necessary support.
In In 2014, the State House defeated casino legislation by a slim 173-172 margin.
Charitable Gaming: Legal
While New Hampshire doesn't have any casinos, they do have some of the most-liberal charity gambling laws in the U.S.
In fact, approved businesses/organizations can offer Vegas style gaming like table games and poker. But there are a few catches to worry about:
- Businesses must partner with charities and donate 35% of revenue.
- Betting limits for every game except poker are capped at $4 per round.
- Slot machines are not permitted for charity purposes (Section 287-D:1 III).
These rules may sound restrictive, but then again, New Hampshire is one of the few states to allow charity blackjack, craps, roulette and three-card poker.
Essentially, the Granite State has a number of mini casinos floating around. This is a far cry from the mega-casino resorts in nearby Massachusetts, but it's better than nothing.
Section 647:1 IV(a) discusses what counts as a qualified charity group:
"... means any bona fide religious, charitable, civic, veterans', or fraternal or church organization, including police and firemen's organizations which shall have been registered with the secretary of state for at least 2 years."
New Hampshire was the first in America to launch a lottery, doing so in 1964. Today, they sell a variety of tickets, including Gimme 5, Hot Lotto, Lucky For Life, Mega Millions, Pick3, Pick4, Powerball and Tri-State Megabucks.
One interesting thing about the New Hampshire Lottery is that players can purchase subscriptions, where they continue receiving tickets on a regular basis.
Poker is legal under New Hampshire's charity gaming laws. This has led to the opening of several poker clubs around the state.
This includes the 4Jacks Poker Room, Aces and Eights Poker Room and Casino, Manchester Poker Room, Poker Room at One Lafayette and Seabrook Greyhound Park and Poker Room.
New Hampshire used to offer both legal greyhound and horse racing, but they've since banned greyhound racing - like many other states - and no longer run live horse races for lack of support.
Residents can still bet on simulcast racing, though, with facilities at Rockingham Park and Seabrook Greyhound Park.
Social Gambling: Illegal
This state is one of the few that outright bans social gaming. Section 647:2 I.A(a) of the criminal code discusses this as follows:
"A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if such person knowingly and unlawfully: (a) Permits gambling in any place under the person's control."
The phrase "any place under the person's control" can mean somebody's home, business or rental property.
Given that New Hampshire doesn't address social gambling at any other point in their constitution, private poker games and other gaming functions should be considered illegal.
Gambling Venues in New Hampshire
New Hampshire may not be the most-liberal state in regard to gambling, but they do have numerous charity gaming venues.
These establishments operate much like smaller casinos. Some differences, though, include that they can't offer slot machines and 35% of their profits must go to charity.
The lack of slot machines will be a turn-off to some players, but then again, it's hard to complain when you have access to a number of Vegas-style games like blackjack, craps, roulette and poker.
Here are a few of the largest charity gambling businesses found in New Hampshire:
1- 4Jacks Poker Room
78 Wakefield St, Rochester, NH 03867
2- Aces and Eights Poker Room and Casino
169 Ocean Blvd Hampton, NH 03842
3-Boston Billiard Club and Casino
55 Northeastern Blvd, Nashua, NH 03062
4- Keene Casino
222 West St, Keene, NH 03431
5- Lakes Region Casino (a.k.a. Lodge at Belmont)
1265 Laconia Rd, Belmont, NH 03220
6- Manchester Poker Room
1279 S Willow St, Manchester, NH 03103
7- Seabrook Greyhound Park and Poker Room
319 New Zealand Rd, Seabrook, NH 03874
8- The River Casino and Sports Bar
53 High St, Nashua, NH 03060
History of Gambling in New Hampshire
As covered earlier, New Hampshire was the first state to launch a modern lottery. They're also noted for creating very liberal charity gaming laws in the 1970s.
But New Hampshire's gambling history begins earlier than this. The first type of gaming that they legalized was pari-mutuel betting in 1933.
Like in many other parts of the U.S., pari-mutuel betting was very successful in New Hampshire, but the racing industry began declining when charity casinos and other forms of gaming became more prevalent.
By 2013, all live racing ceased due to poor financial performance.
State politicians began exploring commercial gaming in the late 2000s. The matter came to a House vote in 2014, being defeated by one vote.
New Hampshire has remained the same in terms of gambling since then, but it's possible that we could see changes in the future.
State legislature legalizes pari-mutuel betting. Rockingham Park becomes state's first horseracing track.
New Hampshire creates the United States' first modern lottery.
Greyhound racing & betting is approved.
New Hampshire legalizes charity casino games.
Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont from America's first multi-state lottery.
Simulcast horseracing betting approved.
Sweepstakes cafes are banned.
Bill to legalize commercial casino loses by by a 173-172 margin in the State House.
Bill to legalize commercial casinos fails in State Senate by a 13-11 vote.
New Hampshire legalizes bingo and pull-tab tickets for charity purposes.
Voters approve the lottery in 198 out of 211 cities.
Seabrook Greyhound Park (and Poker Room) opens.
Legislature votes down bill for racinos.
Greyhound racing is banned.
Live horseracing ceases because of poor financial performace.
Rockingham Park closes after 110 years of operation
New Hampshire Gambling FAQ
As stated earlier, the Granite State has no legal language that either approves or bans online gaming. This makes New Hampshire a grey area where residents can access many offshore casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks.
Of course, as with any grey area, there are numerous questions surrounding New Hampshire's iGaming market. Let's explore some of the most-frequently asked questions about their online gaming scene.
At the time of this writing, Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey are the only states that have legalized and regulated online gaming, and the common theme among all three is that iGaming sites must be partnered with their land-based casinos.
Here are a few examples:
- WSOP.com and Caesars Interactive in Nevada.
- 888poker.com and Wynn in NV.
- 888casino.com and Caesars Interactive in New Jersey.
- NJ.Partypoker.com and Borgata in NJ.
- VirgingCasino.com and Tropicana in NJ.
New Hampshire doesn't have any brick-and-mortar casinos. Until they legalize and build land-based casinos, it's highly unlikely that they will regulate online gaming.
In January 2017, State House Rep. Eric Schleien introduced HB 562, which seeks to decriminalize gambling. The legislation is a simple excerpt into the state constitution, which you can see below:
"Amend RSA 647:2,V by inserting after subparagraph (c) the following new subparagraph: (d) Gambling done over an Internet connection on a website on the Internet."
This line would be added to gambling exemptions listed under RSA 647.2, which covers banned gaming activities. Currently, only charity casinos & poker rooms, amusement games and cruise ships are exempt from illegal gambling.
We applaud Rep. Schleien's efforts to clarify that iGaming isn't illegal, but we're not sure that the amendment is needed.
As covered before, New Hampshire is in a grey area regarding online gaming. They've also yet to arrest anybody or go after an offshore operator.
HB HB 562 is being reviewed by a committee at this time.
Much like their non-stance on iGaming, New Hampshire has also avoided making a ruling on daily fantasy sports (DFS).
This is a change from dozens of other states, which have either regulated DFS or banned the activity until further inspection.
Industry leaders DraftKings and FanDuel have continued operating in New Hampshire because there's no rule against doing so.
In January 2017, House Rep. Gary Azarian introduced HB 580, which is an effort to legalize and regulate DFS. This bill would see the Lottery Commission oversee DFS sites, and require operators to pay a 5% tax on gross revenue.
Rep. Azarian explained his reasoning behind the bill by saying, "It's going to be a global entertainment industry, the state of New Hampshire can get in on the ground floor."
The State Senate passed the legislation by a 20-3 margin. The bill must also pass the House and receive Gov. Chris Sununu's approval.
The main gaming authorities in New Hampshire include the Racing and Charitable Gaming Division and the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. They also have a Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority that weighs in on gambling matters.
Here's a closer look at each of these organizations.
The Charitable Gaming Division is actually a division of the Lottery Commission. They preside over charity casinos, poker rooms and simulcast racing. The Charitable Gaming Division used to govern live racing too, but the horse tracks are only used for charitable gaming facilities now.
The NH Lottery Commission is the state's primary gaming authority, managing all of the lottery products and payouts. They're also the parent organization of the Charitable Gaming Division.
The Oversight Authority oversees gaming activities to ensure fair gaming and ensure public confidence in the state's gambling industry.
The Future & Your Views
New Hampshire's online gaming market is a total grey area.
They have no bans against Internet casino games, poker rooms, sportsbooks and DFS sites. This makes the Granite State a good place for anybody who's into iGaming.
State politicians are currently discussing DFS regulation and decriminalizing online gaming.
Neither measure seems needed right now due to the lack of bans, but it would be nice to have the clarification that both forms of gaming are completely fine.
Odds are that New Hampshire won't be legalizing and regulating their own online gaming market any time soon. They don't have any commercial casinos, which have proven necessary in forming partnerships with regulated U.S. gaming sites.
The Granite State will likely keep the status quo, which includes charitable casinos, poker rooms and a lottery. At least the legislature is discussing online gaming matters for future years, which could be a very good thing.