Matt Siegel heads occasionally to Portsmouth, N.H., to make sports bets from his phone while sitting in his truck. Sporting betting has been legal in New Hampshire since late 2019, but in order to place mobile bets you have to be physically present in the state. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Matt Siegel of Topsham doesn’t make the trip very often, maybe once or twice every few months. Sometimes it’s to a parking lot in Portsmouth, or a diner there. Just as long as he’s far enough south of the Piscataqua River that the geolocation on his phone realizes he is in New Hampshire.

Once over the border, Siegel can fire up the DraftKings Sportbook app on his phone and start placing bets on sporting events, which has been legal in New Hampshire since late 2019. Typically, he wagers on professional soccer or UFC fights. The app will not allow Siegel, or anybody, to place a bet from inside Maine’s borders.

“When I’m visiting my buddy in the Portland area, sometimes we’ll drive to New Hampshire. I enjoy sports. I’ve been playing daily sports fantasy for a while,” said Siegel, 34.

A bill working through the Maine Legislature could keep bettors like Siegel close to home. Last month, the Judiciary Committee voted 8-6 to advance a bill that would allow Maine’s indigenous tribes to operate mobile sports betting businesses, and authorize Oxford Casino and the state’s harness racing tracks and off-track betting facilities to conduct in-person sports betting.

As Maine considers sports betting, it can look to New Hampshire for clues. Fueled predominately by mobile wagering, sports betting has been a fast-growing revenue boost for New Hampshire. But the ease of placing sports bets via a computer or phone app has raised concerns about the potential for gambling addictions.

Sports betting in New Hampshire is run by the state’s lottery commission, which has an exclusive contract with DraftKings Sportbook to post betting odds, collect wagers and pay off the winners. The New Hampshire Lottery receives 50 percent of the gaming revenue from sports betting sales at the three retail locations in Dover, Seabrook and Manchester, as well as 51 percent of revenue from sports bets placed using the DraftKings Sportsbook mobile app. DraftKings gets the rest of the revenue.


Through the first eight months of the 2021-22 fiscal year, more than $579 million had been wagered on sports in New Hampshire, with the state receiving slightly more than $15 million in revenue. Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery, estimated the state’s cut by the end of the fiscal year on June 30 will be just over $22 million – an increase of nearly one-third from 2020-21 ($16.7 million) and a huge increase from the first year that sports betting was introduced in the state ($2.2 million in 2019-20).

“It’s been tremendously successful, even more so than we anticipated,” McIntyre said of sports betting. “I think we have absolutely crushed the illegal market.”

All of New Hampshire’s sports gambling revenue goes to the state’s Education Trust Fund; it will account for about 2 percent of the estimated $1 billion revenue for the Education Trust Fund in this fiscal year.


New Hampshire is bordered by three states – Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont – where sports betting is prohibited. McIntyre estimated 30 percent of the money wagered in New Hampshire’s three retail sports-betting sites is placed by out-of-staters. Nonresidents account for an estimated 15 percent of mobile users, McIntyre said.

Players can bet on a myriad of professional and collegiate sporting events in North America and overseas. Wagers on teams based in the state, such as those at the University of New Hampshire, are prohibited. Winnings are subject to federal income tax, and payouts greater than $5,000 are subject to Internal Revenue Service reporting.


The DraftKings Sportsbook app is simple to use. To start, bettors must deposit a minimum of $5 from a credit card (DraftKings gives bonus funds in the form of site credit to first-time users). Someone, for example, looking to place a bet on The Masters golf tournament this weekend can select a golfer and an outcome – a victory or top-5 finish, to name two possibilities – then choose an amount to wager. The app offers quick-click buttons to bet either $1, $5 or $20, or you can enter a different amount. In a few clicks, the bet is placed.

John Paglio of Portland said he’s gone to New Hampshire to wager on sports, most recently in February for the Super Bowl.

“I went to The Brook (a retail sports-betting site in Seabrook) for the experience. However, I used the DraftKings Sportsbook app to place my bets,” Paglio said. “It is so much easier and I’d rather have full control of my money. Whereas if I were to go to the window and place a bet, I’d have to drive back down to New Hampshire to collect my money.”

DraftKings spokesperson Suzanne Trainor declined to give an amount for the average wager placed by mobile app users. Paglio said his typical wagers range between $25 and $50. Siegel said his typical bet is $10.

Seeing that money spent out of state is what prompted Maine Rep. Tim Roche, a Republican from Wells, to sponsor a bill seeking legalized sports betting, though his bill was ultimately set aside in favor of the one that came out of the Judiciary Committee. Roche was motivated by what he saw across the border.

“I just saw a ton of money heading south. I have people I know who go over (to New Hampshire) and place bets,” Roche said. “They bet, and then they turn around and come back, and New Hampshire’s getting that. We have scratch tickets. We have bingo. What’s the difference if somebody wants to put a little on the Patriots?”


The mobile app makes it easy to do just what Roche described, For Mainers in York or Oxford County, it’s a short drive to New Hampshire, where they can sit in their car and place bets from their phones. Bets placed with the DraftKings Sportsbook app account for 77 percent of all wagers placed in New Hampshire so far this fiscal year. In the year from July 2020 through June 2021, they accounted for 84 percent of all money bet on sports in New Hampshire.

“The mobile side is what drives growth. It’s where most of the revenue comes from,” McIntyre said.


Since sports betting was introduced in December 2019, Ed Talbot, executive director of the New Hampshire Council on Problem Gambling, has seen what he described as a slight increase in calls to his organization from people looking for help with a sports betting problem.

Talbot said 45 percent of calls from gamblers seeking help to the New Hampshire Council on Problem Gambling in 2021 were for sports betting. In the first quarter of 2022, approximately 43 percent of the calls were for sports betting, Talbot said.

“Once sports betting was legalized, it became almost a horse race between lottery and sports gambling,” Talbot said of the reason for calls to his agency. “Before it was legal, sports gambling was going on. We all know that. But since it’s been more accessible, there’s been a small uptick (in calls).”


If sports betting becomes legal in Maine, gambling addiction treatment options in the state have to be improved, said Lori Manson of the Maine Council on Problem Gambling, a private nonprofit agency. Manson also serves as Maine’s liaison with the National Council on Problem Gambling.

“That would all have to be scaled up, and there would be a lag in time in funding,” Manson said. “There needs to be an understanding that it’s an addiction. Many people think (gambling) is more of a character flaw.”

The Maine bill includes safeguards Manson supports. Bettors will need to be at least 21, as opposed to 18 in New Hampshire. One percent of the profits from sports betting will go to gambling addiction treatment funds, and professional and college teams based in Maine will be off limits for wagers.

“Our goal isn’t to prevent sports gambling,” said Manson. “Our goal is to ensure there are safeguards.”

Manson cited a sharp increase in calls to Connecticut’s gambling helpline shortly after sports gambling was legalized there last October. A number of calls came from younger people who lost large amounts of money quickly, instead of over time, Manson said.

Maine 211 is a phone service designed to help Mainers find help for a number of issues, including problem gambling. Maine 211 program manager Nikki Williams said they received 56 calls in the last fiscal year related to problem gambling, but did not know how many of those were specifically related to sports betting.


The legislation that allowed for sports betting in New Hampshire earmarked $100,000 per year go to problem gambling resources. If Maine were to generate similar revenue from sports betting as New Hampshire – $16.7 million in the last fiscal year – then approximately $167,000 would go to gambling treatment programs in the state.


In May 2018, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck down a federal ban preventing states from offering sports betting. Since then, the floodgates have opened across the country. DraftKings Sportsbook launched in New Jersey within months of the Supreme Court ruling, becoming the first company to offer online sports betting.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting, according to the American Gaming Association. Florida, Nebraska and Ohio have passed legislation legalizing sports betting, but it has yet to go live in those states.

Each state has its own laws to govern the industry, said Michael McCann, the founding director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire and one of the nation’s leading sports law experts.

What makes New Hampshire’s law different from the proposal before the Maine legislature is that one entity, the New Hampshire Lottery, oversees everything related to sports betting in the state. In Maine, the plan is to let the tribes oversee the mobile app piece of the business. Many states have a partnership with their tribes, McCann said.


“When there’s one entity (in charge), that creates a level of organization,” McCann said. “I’m sure (Maine) can make it work because the state and tribes have incentive to make it work. It’s a wrinkle, but not an insurmountable one.”

Bets placed on mobile apps accounted for 87 percent of all sports bets nationwide in 2021, according to the American Gaming Association. Slightly more than $50 billion was wagered using a mobile app last year, with revenue from mobile apps amounting to $3.59 billion.

Still, New Hampshire and many other states have retail betting centers where patrons can place sports bets in person. New Hampshire has three: The Brook Casino in Seabrook, and the Filotimo Restaurants and Casinos in Dover and Manchester. McIntyre, of the New Hampshire State Lottery, said the state hopes to open a fourth retail betting center soon.

It was quiet at the Filotimo’s in Dover on a weekday afternoon in March, but owners Jamie and Dante Timbas expected good crowds for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament games Thursday and Friday night and over the weekend.

“A good amount of players come from Maine. Usually from just over the border, Berwick, or Lebanon,” Dante Timbas said.

McIntyre, however, said legalized betting in Maine would have a negligible impact on New Hampshire’s gambling revenue. He said more of New Hampshire’s out-of-state bettors come from Massachusetts, simply because of the larger population to the south.

“Maine’s not a big concern of ours, because there’s not a major population center on the border,” McIntyre said. “I don’t think many people from Portland are driving to New Hampshire to place bets on the mobile side.”

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