New Hampshire, like many New England states, was founded as a place where people were free to do whatever they wanted. While that is so, it seems as though something got lost in translation because there are very few casino options available to residents nor visitors. While this may be unusual, considering the origins of the founding of the state, the restrictive nature of New Hampshire’s casino laws is not atypical of New England.
While the overall history of New Hampshire is one that has not been very friendly to casinos, it seems as though the tide is slowly but surely shifting. As neighboring states legalize casino-style gambling and reap the tax benefits therein, New Hampshire has had its back against the wall, so to speak. As such, the future looks very bright as it relates to legalized casino gambling in the state.
Though there are a few casinos located across the state, they are not only few and far between, they are also nothing like the casinos you will find in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Right now, the only legal type of gambling is charitable gambling. This means that the casinos that exist see more than 30% of their revenues go directly to charities. While this doesn’t necessarily affect individual players, it affects casino operators, who are not exactly chomping at the bit to open a casino where close to half of the revenue goes straight out the door.
All of that aside, there are poker games and table games such as roulette and blackjack available all days of the year.
The biggest year for gambling in New Hampshire has to be 1933, when pari-mutuel betting on horse races was legalized. Shortly after this move was made, plenty of locations opened up to offer betting, including the racetracks at which the racing was happening. For a long time, the existence of horse betting meant that charitable gambling had a wider reach, but funding for the horseracing industry was axed shortly after 2010 after things began declining pretty dramatically. Though many of these horserace betting locations still exist and still facilitate pari-mutuel wagering, there are no new sites being erected due to the almost total lack of horseracing.
For background, the horserace industry was finally put to rest thanks to a measure passed in 2009 that added a 10% tax to all winning bets. This essentially drove any and all gambling money away from New Hampshire racetracks and killed the industry. In a way, this killed most charitable gambling options.
As we look towards the future, there is a large movement to legalize casino-style gambling. In 2014 alone, for example, more than 5 different measures were introduced that would have legalized casino gambling in one form or another. Though none of these measures gained enough of a foothold to be voted upon and passed, it does signal to people that there is a changing of the opinion of many lawmakers. While only 10 years ago you would be hard-pressed to find even one representative that was supportive of casino gambling, there are now multiple people who fit that description. With gambling growing in New England, New Hampshire can only hold out for so long.