New Hampshire Gambling Laws

New Hampshire Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire gambling laws allow for charitable gaming, parimutuel betting, and lottery ticket sales. New Hampshire does not have casino gambling. Most of the state's gambling regulation is handled by one government agency, though the New Hampshire Lottery Commission governs all lottery ticket sales (though not Lucky 7 raffle tickets). Because New Hampshire is a smaller state, it combines power into one agency, where other states split authority between two or three agencies.

Where Does Poker Fall Under New Hampshire Law?

New Hampshire is one of the tricker states in America when it comes to the legal status of poker. To understand why that's the case, we have to start with how New Hampshire defines gambling in their state law.

That definition (found in Section 647) is a bit different than the relatively standard definition of gambling employed by states like Colorado and Illinois. What sets New Hampshire apart is that gambling must involve an event "not under one's control or influence" - a phrase that invites a number of questions not raised by the stricter definitions of other states. For example, poker players can obviously influence the outcome of a hand by betting - or even by folding. Does that mean poker isn't gambling in New Hampshire?

Unfortunately, those questions have yet to be officially settled by the New Hampshire courts, and they may never be (state law is funny that way). So we'll put aside the hypothetical and talk about how you can legally play poker for real money in new Hampshire assuming that poker does qualify as gambling.

Once you make that assumption, your list of clearly legal options shrinks quickly. While commercial casinos may come to New Hampshire at some point in the near future, they're not there yet - so live poker rooms at commercial casinos are off the list.

How about private / social gambling? Our review of New Hampshire law didn't uncover an obvious exception for these sorts of games. Now, that isn't meant to suggest that police will be breaking down your front door the next time you host an informal game of cards - all we're talking about here is the letter of the law.

The one bright spot for New Hampshire poker players is the charitable gambling industry in the state. It is at approved charitable gambling events (See NH revised statutes, section 287-D) that poker players find the one absolutely legal way to participate in games of poker where real money is risked and wagered in New Hampshire. 

New Hampshire Racing and Charitable Gambling Commission

New Hampshire is the 46th largest and the 42nd most populous US state, so its gambling regulatory agencies have less space to cover and fewer people to govern. For this reason, New Hampshire's racing and charitable gaming industries are regulated by the same agency: The Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission.

Is Horse Racing Legal in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire has one horse track racino. A "racino" is a race track for dogs, horses, or harness racing which also has components of casino gambling. Most racinos have gambling machines though these machines have a wide range of options: video poker, video keno, and video bingo are common options, but not the only options.

Rockingham Park Race Track is the only horse track racino in New Hampshire. In many ways, it's a departure from what you'll find in many states, because it dispenses with the gaming machines and replaces them with poker tables and a bingo hall. Rockingham Park has 72 total casino table games, including 60 poker tables. The bingo parlor has 250 total seats. Also on the property is 3 restaurants, a bar, and a food court.

Is Dog Racing / Betting Legal in New Hampshire?

The dog track racinos follow a similar pattern. The Lodge at Belmont offers greyhound races, but also offers 17 gaming tables. The casino tables include craps, roulette, and 10 poker tables. Also on site is the Bluesology Lounge, which serves typical American cuisine.

The Seabrook Greyhound Park is the other dog track racino in New Hampshire. This park includes 58 table and poker games, including blackjack, roulette, Let It Ride, and 50 poker tables. Seabrook Park offers a two dining rooms, a lounge, two bars, and a concession stand.

Learn About Other State Laws

New Hampshire Expands Gambling

On February 22, 2012, the Ways and Means Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives approved an expanded gambling bill, advancing it from committee to a possible vote on the House floor later in the year. This bill would allow two gambling licenses for casino properties to be placed in two separate economically deprived areas of the state, to increase revenues and bring jobs to those communities.

Four days later, the House announced it would vote on an expansion of 420 table games and 14,000 video slots for potential New Hampshire casinos. These governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, has announced he would oppose such a bill.

New Hampshire Lottery Laws

New Hampshire allows the sell of lottery tickets by vendors licensed by the official state New Hampshire State Lottery. Tickets like are Lucky for Life, Extra Weekly Grand, Hot Lotto Sizzler, Tristate Megabucks New Hampshire, Pick 3, and Pick 4 are lottery tickets available in New Hampshire. Lottery gamblers in the state also can by Mega Million and Powerball tickets.