New Hampshire Lottery Criticized for Keeping Bidders Secret
The New Hampshire Lottery is being criticized for not releasing the names of 13 bidders that answered its request for proposals (RFP) for a provider for sports betting. The lottery defends this action, saying the “confidential nature” of the proposals mandates it.
The New Hampshire Lottery, which received 13 proposals to operate sports betting in the Granite State, is coming under criticism for keeping the names of those bidders a secret.
Last week Lottery Director Charlie McIntyre announced that the lottery would, for the time being, keep the names under wraps, saying in a statement that because of “the confidential nature of the RFP process, the New Hampshire Lottery is unable to release any further information at this time.” It said it will announce the winner of the process in two months. The Lottery anticipates launching sports wagering by early next year.
McIntyre said in a statement, “We are pleased and encouraged at both the robust number of responses and the overall quality of the proposals.”
He added, “As the critical next step in the process, we look forward to reviewing each response carefully and thoroughly to ensure we can ultimately make the right decisions in launching a sports betting system that engages and protects players, while also driving crucial revenue for education in the Granite State,”
An editorial the New Hampshire Union Leader declared, “Keeping secrets is about the last thing the lottery should be doing if it is trying to gain public confidence in what will be a whole new and uncharted area for legalized gambling.”
Although the names have not been released, educated guessing would almost certainly place several companies in the list. They include DraftKings, based in Boston, FanDuel, William Hill and Penn National.
The RFP invited proposals for operating sports book both at a total of 10 retail brick and mortar locations and online. The law, signed into law in July by Governor Chris Sununu, authorizes betting on professional sports and most college sports, except games involving New Hampshire colleges.
Sportsbooks will be operated under the Lottery by the newly created Division of Sports Wagering.
The lottery estimates that sports betting will generate about $7.5 million for schools in FY 2021 and $13.5 million by the time the market matures in 2023.
The Union Leader noted that when the N.H. Sweepstakes Commission was created that it named as its first director an FBI agent in order to protect the Lottery from any taint. It urged the Lottery to be totally aboveboard about the process due to the dodgy history of sports betting and its association in the public mind with bookies, “athletes shaving points and mobsters fixing contests.”
The publication concluded, “The public may not need to know every piece of this “process,” but it damned sure ought to know who is interested in bidding on this massive new business and at what price; and it needs to know that there are no connections between anyone at the Lottery and any of the bidders.”
The law allows for 10 municipalities to host sports betting. It requires that cities interested in doing so must submit the proposal to the voters. So far at least nine cities have either put such proposals on the ballot for November 5 or are studying it. They include Nashua, which is near the state line with Massachusetts, Concord, the state capitol, and Manchester, the state’s largest city.
It also authorizes up to five mobile sports betting operators that would allow wagers to be placed anywhere in the state.
Once New Hampshire’s sports betting operation is up and running it will be the second in New England, following a year after Rhode Island unveiled its sportsbooks on the day after Thanksgiving 2018. A key distinction is that Rhode Island’s sports betting is offered through the state’s only two casinos, which are both owned and operated by Twin River Worldwide Holdings. Both states will have mobile betting.