Current State of Gambling & Poker in New Hampshire
2021 Update: Can I Play Online Poker in New Hampshire?
There have been a few bills to regulate online poker in New Hampshire over the last few years, but none have succeeded. Bill HB 562, which would’ve allowed casinos and online poker, was shelved by lawmakers in 2017.
New Hampshire did legalize sports betting in July 2019 though. The bill allowed for mobile sports betting and it went live at the beginning of 2020. In April, they expanded it to offer virtual eNASCAR races. New Hampshire, which was the first state to have a lottery, is also fighting the Wire Act. The New Hampshire lottery is currently fighting the Department of Justice in the federal appeals court. A new interpretation of the act in Jan. 2019 by the DOJ expands the definition beyond sports betting and could threaten the state’s lottery.
While New Hampshire has been a pioneer for gambling in some regards, it still lags behind when it comes to online poker. We’ll see what the future holds.
Gambling Laws and Poker in New Hampshire
Every state has their own legal definition of gambling. Most of them are quite similar and use the word “chance” as a key factor. New Hampshire is a bit different. The state of New Hampshire’s definition of “gambling” is:
“Risking something of value upon a future contingent 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.”
The key elements here are “future contingent” and “not under one’s control or influence.” In 2012, a federal judge ruled that poker is a game of skill. That would imply that the outcomes are under your control. This means online poker could face an easier path to regulation if the state takes it up again.
The debate of skill vs luck in poker is a big debate. There’s no doubt luck is a factor, the question is whether it overweighs the skill element. Click this link for a more in-depth guide on NH gambling definitions and penalties.
What’s the Poker Scene in New Hampshire?
Poker isn’t as widespread in New Hampshire as it is in other states. There are no casinos, but it’s close to tribal casinos in Connecticut so that’s often a choice for New Hampshirites. The state hasn’t regulated online poker so there aren’t any state specific sites, but there are a few that take players from all 50 states.
There are also home games. That’s a gray area, but we found a good forum post by a lawyer in New Hampshire who has been practicing law for decades. The lawyer goes on to say:
“There are no New Hampshire Supreme Court cases answering the question: does Poker fit the NH definition of gambling? That said, in 27 years of practicing criminal defense in NH I have yet to see a single case involving a home game of Poker. And there are lots of private Poker games in NH.”
A later post says.
“I think most NH folks are happy with the status quo: commercial Poker is openly licensed, regulated and commonly available in NH as part of our “charity gaming” statute. And private home Poker is ignored by law enforcement.”
Can I Play on PokerStars in New Hampshire?
That would be a no for now. PokerStars was available all over the US before Black Friday, but it’s just started to make its comeback. There’s still no PokerStars in New Hampshire, or any other state-run or regulated site. But there are a few other sites that offer a lot of the same perks.
Americas Cardroom and BetOnline both have quality software and good player pools. They also accept players from all 50 states. Both those sites are good PokerStars alternatives for players in New Hampshire. There are plenty more too. Check out our reviews below to find a site that suits you:
Other Forms of Legal Gambling in New Hampshire
New Hampshire was the first state to have a lottery in the United States. The state’s been running a lottery since 1964. Horse racing is allowed in the state but Greyhound racing was banned in 2011. All racing is regulated by the Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission. This agency also collects all the fees and taxes.
There are no live casinos, but the state does offer pari-mutuel betting and allows for charitable gaming. There have been plenty of bills and efforts to expand gambling in the state in recent years. Most notably there’s been a push to add casinos, but it’s failed every time. The state did approve sports betting in 2019 and it officially launched in early 2020. It was the first gambling expansion in quite some time.
This could lead to more expansion in the future.
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