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New Hampshire Governor Blasts Massachusetts Sports Betting Bill

Bill Speros for Bookies.com

Bill Speros  | 7 mins

New Hampshire Governor Blasts Massachusetts Sports Betting Bill

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The governor of New Hampshire has blasted the new Massachusetts sports betting bill passed by the state legislature this week, but his bluster may be hiding an uncomfortable truth for the Granite State.

In a response to a tweet from this reporter sharing the first story detailing the contents of the Bay State's sports betting bill, Gov. Chris Sununu mocked Massachusetts for legislation that includes “a trifecta of convoluted licenses/fees/taxes on winnings that means they will be challenged to match the gold standard of gaming success we’ve built in NH.” 

Sununu, a Republican, noted that Massachusetts was a distant second to New Hampshire in implementing sports betting. New Hampshire has allowed legal mobile betting since 2019. There is only operator in the Granite State, Boston-based DraftKings. There are 5 total mobile skins available. 

Sununu did not respond to questions via email and Twitter about New Hampshire’s competitiveness in terms of it having just one operator. 

His attacks may be masking the very real concern that sports betting in the Bay State could mean less gaming revenue and action for its neighbor to the north.

'It's Going To Be A Little Crazy Down There'

Sununu continued his assault on the Bay State in a call to “The Greg Hill Show” on WEEI in Boston Wednesday morning. “Poking fun at Massachusetts is my second hobby,” Sununu said. “I heard one of the lead Democrats in Massachusetts say our sports gaming is going to have a very competitive 20% tax rate. How do you not laugh at that. Leave it to the Democrats of Massachusetts to screw it up before it even starts. It was classic.”

Sununu said New Hampshire has “what is ranked as the best sports gaming online application with DraftKings and we don’t tax it” and they don't have the “convoluted” regulations that are in the Massachusetts bill. 

“It’s going to be a little crazy down there but hey, good luck,” Sununu, a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2024, said. “With Charlie Baker leaving, you have a wave of socialism that is going pummel the great Commonwealth.” 

RELATED: When Will Massachusetts Sports Betting Launch? Here's What We Know

Baker, who is also a Republican, is not up for re-election. Sununu is the son of former New Hampshire governor and George H.W. Bush chief of staff John Sununu. 

Chris Sununu added that having just one operator in New Hampshire – DraftKings – gives bettors an advantage. Massachusetts will award up to seven mobile skins. In addition, the current casino, parimutuel, racetrack and slot license holders will be able to partner with up to two providers. 

“Look, if DraftKings isn’t doing something right. Or there is a problem with the user experience, I can get on the phone with (DraftKings CEO Jason Robins) and say, ‘You guys gotta fix it.’ They’re right on it,” Sununu said. “You’re gonna have seven different companies. You’re gonna have like Fred’s Gaming LLC putting up their $5 million and giving a crappy user experience. There’s going to be no real controls. It would have been great for Massachusetts to just copy us.” 

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‘Live Free Or Die’ And No State Taxes 

New Hampshire’s state motto is “Live Free Or Die.” The state does not have an income tax or sales tax. For more than 300 years, Massachusetts Blue Laws prohibited most retail and alcohol sales on Sunday. New Hampshire has traditionally had lower tax rates on alcohol and cigarettes, as well. The New Hampshire state lottery began in 1964, eight years before Massachusetts began taking action on the numbers. 

People who live in Greater Boston or near the New Hampshire border elsewhere have often headed north to buy big-ticket items, in addition to booze and cigarettes. 

Sununu, however, appears to be under the misconception that the tax revenue in Massachusetts is being collected directly from bettors. It is instead the cut of profits being paid by sportsbooks within the state. 

RELATED: Last-Minute Deal Reached To Legalize Sports Betting In Masschusetts

In New Hampshire, for example, DraftKings “shares” 51% percent of its mobile revenue with the state because it is the sole operator. If there are two or three operators in New Hampshire, the “share” rate drops to 21% for each book. Aside from the semantics, there is no real difference between a “share” rate and a tax rate. 

And regulated betting apps offer the same odds and juice nationwide. The DraftKings numbers in New Hampshire will be the same as they are in Massachusetts. What does vary by state are the various bonus offers for new bettors, or one-off specials, so bettors should be on the lookout for Massachusetts promo codes when the Bay State goes live.

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Massachusetts Bettors Flocked To NH

While Sununu is effusive in his praise of DraftKings, he may be missing the big point here. New Hampshire has 1.355 million residents, while the population of Massachusetts has now edged above 7 million. Thousands of New Hampshire residents commute daily to Massachusetts (see I-93 southbound in Lawrence at 8 a.m. in the winter). 

New Hampshire was also a means to an end for DraftKings, which has fantasy and sports betting partnerships with the New England Patriots, Boston Celtics, and Boston Bruins. DraftKings was a major player in getting sports betting pushed through the Massachusetts legislature. 

DraftKings said that 28% of the bets placed on Super Bowl 56 in New Hampshire were made by bettors with Massachusetts zip codes. A similar number of wagers were made by Massachusetts residents during the 2022 NBA Finals that featured the Boston Celtics. 

Sports betting is never a zero-sum game, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where New Hampshire’s gaming revenue is not negatively affected by sports betting coming to Massachusetts. 

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Thanks To NH, DraftKings Has Edge In Massachusetts

By being the sole operator in New Hampshire for the past two years, DraftKings has given itself a major edge over other would-be sportsbooks in Massachusetts, while making money next door. 

DraftKings has built brand awareness and loyalty with would-be Bay State bettors already signed up to bet through its app. That will allow DraftKings to spend less than other books to gain a foothold in its home state.

Four of the five states that border Massachusetts – New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire – offer legal mobile betting. Of those, New Hampshire has the largest cluster of Massachusetts residents located 45 minutes or less away.  

Whether one mobile operator or several mobile operators is better for the consumer remains up to the individual consumer. Among the operators expected to be granted licenses in Massachusetts: DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Barstool and WynnBET. All those books are licensed in at least nine other states. 

It will be interesting to see the revenue numbers from New Hampshire once betting is up and running in Massachusetts. 

Sununu could be in for a surprise. 

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About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.