Casino-style gambling and online sports betting is a hotly contested issue in the New England states. And in New Hampshire in particular. Find out about the restrictions on NH casinos and how it’s associated with the region’s complex history, casino bills, and charitable gambling.
From disapproving to embracing, learn about how the other New England states’ stance towards gambling is evolving over time. Moreover, we will discuss how the NH iLottery may be a good alternative for online casino-style gameplay in the state.
Charitable NH Casinos
While private gambling is outlawed in New Hampshire, charitable gambling is allowed but with certain restrictions imposed. These include non-profit organizations and/or operators registering with the Charitable Trust Division. They limit the maximum bet amounts and restricting the number and variety of games that can be played.
What are Charitable NH Casinos?
Charitable NH casinos offer gambling services, such as bingo, slot machines or lotteries. The difference to regular casinos is that players are encouraged to donate funds with the prospect of potentially winning a prize, usually of monetary value. Here, a charity, group of charities or non-profit organization oversee related activities, as opposed to a municipality or private company. The aim is less focused on making a discernible profit and more so on furthering the organization’s charitable goals through incentivized fundraising.
Of course, this system is often manipulated or abused in order to ‘bend the rules’ and extend the restrictions associated with charitable casinos. This may be enacted by the operators themselves or the players who wish to profit over and above the limitations put forward by the gambling legislation in that particular region.
How Charitable NH Casinos Work
In essence, charitable gambling is just another way that organizations, such as churches and disaster relief funds, can raise money for philanthropic endeavors. To qualify, said organizations must meet certain criteria and be registered with the Charitable Trust Division of the Attorney General’s office for at least two years prior to partaking in gambling activities. These services, whether it be hosting bingo events, offering slot machine gameplay or holding online lotteries, can either be provided by the charity directly or by a third-party operator.
Organizations may offer charitable gambling periodically or for a specific campaign and/or goal. However, many offer the service on a subscription or membership basis to produce a sustainable and consistent income. A common example is that of a weekly or monthly lottery or lucky draw that all members qualify for by paying a small fee each month. In general, these activities are confined to low earning outcomes in order to limit the profit-seeking that is associated with conventional gambling.
Charitable NH Casino Games
In conjunction with low maximum bet amounts and limited earnings, charitable gambling is generally based around ‘lucky draw-style’ games such as lotteries, bingo, and raffles. They sometimes include games with basic decision-making involved, such as slot machines, roulette, and solitaire.
However, these ‘casino-style’ games, along with more skillful endeavors, such as poker and blackjack, are carefully monitored and regulated. This is another quality that deters potential profit-seekers and ensures an even distribution of prizes.
In New Hampshire specifically, charitable gambling includes raffles, bingo and Lucky 7. The only form of online bingo that is permitted is handheld electronic bingo cards. Only state-licensed card rooms can play host to table games, such as poker, roulette, and blackjack. Besides simulcast wagering options on horse and greyhound racing, sports betting in the state is now legal, but not yet available.
A rare opportunity for customers to partake in a New Hampshire casino experience is through the NH State Lottery. It is also available online, via the NH iLottery.
Charitable NH Casino Locations
Gamblers have limited access to casino-style gambling in New Hampshire. As outlined above, operators have to be associated with charities and specific causes, which come with a host of restrictions, such as a small selection of games and a $10 maximum bet limit.
Currently, there are 13 NH casino locations, which are usually confined to restaurants and/or small card rooms. Cheers Poker Room & Casino in Salem is the biggest in the state, with 25 table games and no gaming machines. Ocean Gaming has card games, craps, roulette, and a money wheel, while Keene Casino has a card room with 16 table and poker games.
The only possible omission or exception to the rule is that the state allows cruise ships with gambling machines to enter the region for a maximum of 48 hours at a time. NH State Lottery betting, limited horse and greyhound racing and ‘fantasy sports’ are other popular alternatives for gamblers. The only form of online and/or mobile gambling that is currently legal in New Hampshire is horse racing betting but in a very limited capacity. All other forms of iGaming are outlawed, but not always enforced by the authorities.
Legal Status of New Hampshire Casinos
Currently, NH casinos are heavily monitored, restricted and largely illegal, unless they’re associated with eligible charitable organizations. The state’s complex history with the gambling industry, its social stance on the issue and the numerous bills that have been presented (and rejected) in court have created its prevailing legal status.
The History of New Hampshire Gambling
Following the end of the prohibition era in 1933, horse racing betting became the first type of legalized gambling in New Hampshire. This also applied to greyhound racing for a time, but this concession was later repealed. Racetracks in the state are still only allowed to offer off-track betting parlors, with allowance for remote and/or mobile gambling in a limited capacity.
New Hampshire was the first state in the country to legalize the lottery in 1964. However, the gambling industry has largely stagnated since then due to the belief that such endeavors have a largely negative impact on the fabric of society. To mitigate this notion, poker, bingo and some other ‘games of chance’ became legalized in 1977, but only when associated with charitable gambling and subject to its numerous restrictions.
Throughout the years, a variety of bills have been presented and rejected in an attempt to legalize gambling, the most recent of which was the New Hampshire Casino Bill (Senate Bill 310).
New Hampshire Casino Bill
In May 2019, a proposal to allow the creation of two new casinos in New Hampshire was rejected by the state’s lower house. Lawmakers voted 289-63 against the bill, and then by a similar margin to “indefinitely postpone” the idea so that it could not be discussed again in the same year. The bill’s sponsor, Manchester Senator, Lou D’Allesandro, was the only proponent of it.
The strong opposition to the bill is evidence of the state’s ongoing attitude towards gambling and its perceived negative implications. However, lawmakers have appeared to be open to negotiations put forward by NH Governor, Chris Sununu, to legalize online and site-based sports betting in New Hampshire.
The Current Legal Status of NH Casinos
Casino-style gambling is still largely outlawed in New Hampshire. Such gaming can only be played in association with charitable organizations and/or philanthropic causes. Charitable gambling comes with a host of restrictions, including legislation that requires at least 35% of the profits to be donated to charity. The number and type of games are strictly limited, with slot machines and other ‘games of chance’ still being largely prohibited. Stakes, wagers and potential earrings are also heavily regulated with the maximum bet amount increasing to only $10 in 2018.
The only form of online and/or mobile gambling that is currently legal in New Hampshire is horse racing and ‘fantasy sports’ betting, but only in a limited capacity. All other forms of iGaming are outlawed but not always enforced by authorities. Recent developments in court may suggest that the legalization of NH sports betting and online casinos could be a possibility in the medium to long-term future.
Gambling & Casinos in New England
While gambling is still largely prohibited in New Hampshire, other New England states have stances that range from disapproving through to more embracing of casino-style gaming and online casinos. Soon, there might be more alternatives to NH Casinos in the neighboring states.
While there are no legal restrictions on live horse racing betting, the state no longer has any active race tracks, which makes this concession null and void. Vermont and New Hampshire are the only states in New England to have no tribal casinos and few allowances for online sports betting.
Currently, live racing betting is allowed at the state’s two active racetracks: Suffolk Downs and Plainridge Racecourse. Residents can make bets on horse and greyhound racing events online but in a limited capacity. Charitable organizations are allowed to operate certain gambling games for fundraising purposes, including bridge, bingo, raffles, pull tabs and casino nights.
Under the Expanded Gaming Act, up to three casinos and one slot parlor can be operated in the state of Massachusetts. A slot parlor was opened at Plainridge Park Casino in 2015, a casino resort, MGM Springfield, in 2018 and another casino resort, Encore Boston Harbor, is scheduled to open in 2019. One more casino license may be issued, but the process has been delayed due to claims from native populations in the area.
In the state, wagering on horse racing is permitted, but only in pool betting format at the state’s two racetracks. Legal online horse racing and ‘fantasy sports’ betting is available but in a limited capacity. Maine law allows for only two casinos in the state: Oxford Casino in Oxford and Hollywood Casino in Bangor. ‘Racino’ law has been amended throughout the years to legalize slot machines and table games, but in Bangor only.
The legislation permits various forms of charitable gambling including, bingo, raffles, and card games, but with limited bet amounts and prizes. The Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act allows the four recognized tribes in the state to host high-stakes bingo games with unlimited prize values. It is surmised that Maine could very well legalize online betting at some point over the short to medium-term future.
Pool betting on horse racing, greyhound racing, and jai alai is offered at sixteen off-track betting parlors around the region. Connecticut is one of the few states in New England where online sports betting is legal; however, this is heavily monitored and does not apply to casino-style games.
The state has two Indian casinos: Mohegan Sun in Uncasville and Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard. They are operated under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, where tribes are required to donate 25% of their slot machine revenue to the state. Connecticut law permits various forms of charitable gambling, including ‘games of chance’ for fundraising purposes. These include; bingo, raffles, carnival games, and pull-tabs.
After a law was passed in 2018, all forms of sports betting – including online and mobile sports betting – are now legal in Rhode Island. A number of pending possible changes in the legislature means that online casinos and poker markets may be permitted sometime in the short-term future.
The New Hampshire iLottery
As mentioned above, New Hampshire was the first state in the country to legalize the lottery in 1964. Thus, it has a complex history and strong association with this state-licensed ‘game of chance’.
What is the iLottery?
The New Hampshire Lottery boasts a host of lucky draw and sweepstake-style games, such as Lucky for Life, Mega Millions, Powerball, Tri-State Megabucks and various types of scratch cards. In essence, these games raise money by selling numbered tickets and awarding prizes to the holders of winning numbers drawn at random.
Launched in September 2018, the iLottery offered digital lottery products (via its website and/or app) for the first time. It thus provides one of the few legal means for locals to ‘gamble’ online in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire iLottery Restrictions
The iLottery and Lottery, in general, comes with a variety of restrictions for both the player and the operator itself. In order to be eligible, customers have to be over the age of eighteen and have a valid New Hampshire address (only residents can play). Tickets can be purchased via authorized lottery retailers throughout the state with transactions being subject to New Hampshire law which includes a 24% federal tax, as well as restrictions on potential revenue and/or winnings leaving the region.
Lottery subscriptions can be bought online, with the NH iLottery sign up procedure involving a stringent screening process. When registering in other US states, customers must disclose their full name, date of birth, address, a valid form of ID, as well as the last four digits of their social security number. Lottery officials will use players’ IP address, along with geolocation software to verify that they are located within the state.
New Hampshire iLottery Games & Promotions
The iLottery boasts a wide variety of products, many of which are similar to ‘cash on the spot’, casino-style games, all with the option to select the amount you want to wager (minimum and maximum stakes). These NH iLottery games are also very similar to slot machines, in both their mechanics and the way they display odds or RTPs. While conventional lotteries have scheduled draws, instant win games award prizes on the spot. Some examples of popular NH iLotto instant games include, Triple Gems, Blackjack Doubler, Queen of Diamonds and a new game, Roll the Dice. Some of the biggest prizes in this category can be found on Jackpot Cash and Diamond Payout.
Other types of products include Keno games, which have very similar mechanics and rules to bingo. Fast Cash and Pull-tab games can also be played, where tickets are ‘opened’ to reveal a prize. The iLottery also has a range of Draw games, which are the most similar to a traditional lottery in that a scheduled draw determines the winning ticket or number combinations. The most popular NH iLottery games are the Mega Millions and Powerball lotteries.
The New Hampshire iLottery offers regular and frequent promotions, as well as its standard Welcome Bonus, where customers can play up to five games for free. Currently, two additional promotions are running, including a Holiday Bonus and the Match One Win Two Million offer. Click on the offers to see more information and links to NH Lottery promo codes.
The world of gambling is a somewhat convoluted one in New Hampshire and the New England states in general. A heavily restricted industry that allows charitable gambling, but with a host of stringent limitations, means that the NH iLottery is a fantastic alternative option for those seeking NH Casinos.
Neighboring regions have varying stances on the matter, with Rhode Island being the most progressive and, most likely, the first to legalize online casinos.