LACONIA — Voters may get a chance to decide whether sports betting should be permitted in the city.
The City Council on Monday scheduled a public hearing for Aug. 26 on whether to put the issue on the Nov. 5 ballot.
House Bill 480 allows sports betting in the state at up to 10 sports book retail locations in municipalities that have voted to allow it.
Rep. Tim Lang, R-Sanbornton, was the prime sponsor.
He said that, under the bill, businesses wishing to offer sports betting would apply to the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. Lang said he’s not sure whether any local businesses are interested.
Lang said the commission would negotiate with the businesses as to the percentage the state would get from transactions, but he said $10 million is expected to be generated from sports betting in the first two years. The money would go toward public education.
“I’m a big believer in liberties,” Lang said. “People should be able to do what they want to do, within reason.”
He said an estimated 100,000 people in New Hampshire gamble online.
Lang said that, by having sports betting handled through the Lottery Commission, gamblers will have increased consumer protection.
“This takes it out of the darkness and into the light,” he said. “It takes an illicit operation and turns it into a legal one.”
Lang said he is not a frequent gambler.
“I didn’t do this because I wanted to gamble, but other people should have the freedom to do so,” Lang said. “I look at it as a win-win.
“Citizens get increased freedom, consumers get more protection, there will be new business opportunities in the state, jobs, money, an opportunity for the state to make revenue and money for education, which goes back to our kids.”
He also said there is a provision for counseling for those with a gambling addiction.
“Also, vendors will basically do metrics and, if someone is gaming too much, they can shut them off,” Lang said. “This is to stop people from doing addictive gaming.”