With Thanksgiving approaching, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is feeling particularly grateful for the Massachusetts Legislature’s glacial-paced entry into sports betting.
While multiple Massachusetts sports betting bills languish since being filed in January, New Hampshire is only a couple of months away from being able to take wagers from Bay State bettors.
That gives shoppers already familiar with the routine of driving to New Hampshire for sales-tax-free buying sprees one more item to place on their lists.
“I’m not going to speak to the motives for why the [Massachusetts] legislature does or doesn’t do anything down there, other than to say that their lack of action is our opportunity, and we’re not going to miss it,” said Sununu in a phone interview.
“We’re going to capture a good part of this market, we’re going to have one of the best products, if not the best product in the country, and they’re just going to have to play catch-up to compete.”
The sports wagering bill was passed by New Hampshire lawmakers in July, and on Tuesday the state’s Lottery Commission, which will oversee sports betting, tipped its hand that Boston-based DraftKings is the favorite to handle sports betting on mobile devices and in retail locations.
Negotiations with operators have not been finalized, and more operators could be approved later, but Sununu is pressing hard to be able to place a bet on his beloved Patriots this season from a Granite State location.
“The playoffs start in January,” said Sununu. “I’m assuming the Patriots are going to the Super Bowl because I’m a diehard fan, but regardless of that, I really want to be betting on Tom Brady before the season’s done.”
So will other Patriots fans, especially ones in Massachusetts, reasons Sununu, though he added that Gov. Charlie Baker “has done a great job trying to get something done in Massachusetts.”
Not that he’s complaining, but Sununu cannot understand why Massachusetts has been so slow to move even one bill from the study phase.
“Isn’t this the same group that wants to ban certain words, they want to ban this and ban that, and more regulations and more taxes? I can’t figure out their motives,” said Sununu. “They don’t seem to understand that they abuse all the advantages that they have.
“Boston is the economic engine of New England, and that’s a wonderful thing, but they end up taking a lot of that for granted, and because of that, I think they miss a lot of opportunities. We’re going to be there to scoop up those opportunities every time.”
Rhode Island legalized sports betting in 2018, but New Hampshire’s mobile component should prove far more attractive than what’s available there. Bettors must download an app, then go to one of the state’s two casinos to have their mobile betting accounts activated.
In New Hampshire, using the DraftKings’ exclusive (for now) mobile sports book app, a bettor simply will have to be in the state. Geolocation technology has improved to the point where a bettor from another state could pull over on the side of the road as soon as the car crosses the state line, place a bet, then make a U-turn and go home.
Sununu would like motorists from Massachusetts — as well as Vermont and Maine — to stay longer and shop more. In projecting initial annual revenue of $7 million to $10 million from sports betting, the state accounted for drivers from neighboring states.
“It’s just so easy,” said Sununu. “We try to make everything easy here. People are already driving into New Hampshire for a variety of other reasons, so this is another example of us trying to create a good, free, consumer-friendly economic model and allow folks to do sports betting, which they’ve been clamoring for for years.”
Last fiscal year, New Hampshire’s lottery products generated adjusted gross revenue of a record $391 million, with $105.6 million earmarked for the state’s education fund.
“While Massachusetts residents are doing all their Christmas shopping sales-tax-free, when they’re up here buying alcohol for the holidays at the best liquor stores in the country, there’s no reason they can’t partake in some sports betting,” said Sununu.
“There’s a huge market in Massachusetts for this. We have no doubt people are going to be coming over the border in droves.”