Is Gambling in New Hampshire Legal?
This Granite State is known for its motto, “Live Free Or Die”.
As striking and powerful as that motto is, the person who came up with it obviously wasn’t thinking about gambling at the time, for the gambling laws here are some of the strictest.
Supposedly, that’s where the “die” part comes in…
Even with the strict laws, the residents of this state have come up with ways to create more gambling options than the lawmakers probably had anticipated.
New Hampshire Gambling Laws
So just how strict are the laws here? Well, first, let’s take a look at what the state defines “gambling” to be:
“ Gambling means to risk something of value upon a future contingent event 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 majority would consider this definition to be a blanket ban on all “chance” related games, which practically covers all forms of card games, even poker.
However, a new law was added in 1977 that allowed charitable organisations to affiliate with bingo games, pull-tab drawings and other games of chance.
“ I. A charitable organization may conduct games of chance to promote the purpose for which it was organized and shall be licensed as provided in this chapter. The license shall authorize games of chance of a specified type on specified dates at specified times and at a specified location including agricultural fairs and other locations where nonprofit fundraising activities are conducted. ”
This law, would immediately be taken advantage of by the people of New Hampshire, and almost right from the get go came a flood of games like blackjack, craps, roulette, and poker. The only downside is in order to stand on the right side of the law, all these games, except poker, must be capped at $4 limits. Still, most would agree that something is better than nothing.
Another noteworthy law is one which defines a “gambling device”:
“ Gambling machine means any device or equipment which is capable of being used to discharge money or anything that may be exchanged for money, or to display any symbol entitling a person to receive money. ”
As always, though it does not specifically mention online gambling, the way this is worded can be interpreted in so many ways, that if the authorities really wanted to charge you for online gambling, they could potentially do so.
The level of charges in this state is mostly determined by the amount wagered, rather than the actual offence itself.
Options for Gambling in New Hampshire
If everything went according to the way the state’s lawmakers had planned, this list would probably be a very short one. However, thanks to the “charitable organisation” law, residents have access to more gambling options than they otherwise would have.
Casino: Although there are no commercial or tribal casinos to speak off, the state is home to a few de facto casinos that offer games like blackjack, craps, roulette and poker. One can usually find these places inside strip malls or pubs.
Poker: Poker is actually legal according to state law, however, that is only when poker is played under charity gambling rules. This includes tournaments that are held at racetracks and bingo halls. Although social poker games are not strictly legal, you and I both know there’s no stopping people from playing some friendly low stake games at home, and as far as we know, no one has been prosecuted for holding a penny ante home game in this state.
Sports Betting: There used to be pari-mutuel betting on live greyhound and horse racing, however both are now long gone. Residents can still bet on Simulcast races at the old racetracks.
Lottery: This was one of the first state to introduce modern lottery. Citizens can also purchase tickets for multi-state and New England games.
Charity Games: There are bingo and raffles.
Online Gambling in New Hampshire
Under the broad coverage of the state’s definition of “gambling”, online gambling could be seen as illegal, though only implicitly. For this reason, which is the same for most other states, gambling online is a common practice for Granite Staters. Players can place wagers online, knowing the fact that no one has ever been arrested for doing so. That is not to say it will never happen, just the the chance of it happening is next to slim. At the end of the day it’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s worth the risk.
Online Poker in New Hampshire
Again, this is neither legal nor illegal. It really comes down to how one interprets the written law. For most, as long as it doesn’t explicitly state that placing wager at online poker is illegal, that’s safe enough for most to try, and try they do.
The Future of Online Poker in New Hampshire
Despite the state’s motto, this really isn’t the freest of states when it comes to gambling. However, it’s always a good sign when there are constant talks among lawmakers and new legislations being pushed out like hot cakes. Especially when one of them directly addressed online poker. Even though the bill ultimately did not pass, its good enough to know that the conversation topic is active.