New Hampshire Real Money Online Gambling Guide

New Hampshire does not have any commercial casinos as of yet and the only casino gambling the state allows these days is charitable gambling. However, the state’s definition of charitable gambling extends to allowing genuine poker rooms and casinos, with the only difference being that charities and not companies benefit. This has allowed New Hampshire a pretty vibrant land-gambling scene for a state its size. New Hampshire even licenses online sports betting now, and residents can also enjoy online poker and casino games at sites regulated elsewhere.

Introduction to New Hampshire Online Gambling

New Hampshire is far from your normal state as far as real money gambling goes. Even though they have no commercial or Indian casinos and only allow charities to offer real money poker or real money casino gambling, their definition of charity as far as gambling goes is quite expansive indeed.

New Hampshire offers not only the lottery, online off-track betting access, sports betting, and genuine charitable gambling, they also offer another sort of charitable gambling, involving a number of casinos that only have to pretend that they are charities to be permitted.

Things are really changing in New Hampshire these days though, and we’re ready to show you what is really behind the current landscape, including everything that you can gamble on in New Hampshire right now, including some things that you may not think that you can do.

History of Gambling in New Hampshire

New Hampshire Online Casinos and SlotsNew Hampshire started its life as a state by eschewing gambling altogether, and although the laws that they created to ban gambling didn’t exactly succeed, laws that are still on the books today, there was the belief in the state that all gambling was against the law at least.

Illusion becomes reality according to strength of belief, and even today, we are left to wonder whether anyone really understands these old laws. Many view what is legal to gamble at in a state by what gambling they authorize, and New Hampshire certainly didn’t have any of that in the early days, at a time when the view toward gambling in the state was decidedly opposed.

New Hampshire’s opposition to gambling might have been on the side of no to everything back then, but the potential for progress is embedded in the degree of opposition. Some states remain seriously opposed to it and remain a long way from changing their mind, but New Hampshire’s sat at a place much closer to yes at the darkest of times, and actually jumped on the horse race betting bandwagon as soon as it started to become popular in a few states.

Rockingham Park opened in 1906 and was considered by reviewers at the time to be the finest horse racing track in the world. This was prior to not only the licensing of pari-mutuel betting but even before the concept was invented, but this did not stop New Hampshirites from betting on the races.

Gambling on horse races remained underground until 1933, when New Hampshire became one of the first states to legalize pari-mutuel betting. New Hampshire later approved betting on greyhound races, and the state had both for a number of decades. Time hasn’t been kind to this industry though, and both horse and dog racing in the state are no more.

It might seem odd that a state would approve horse race betting well before permitting charitable gambling, but if you prefer games of skill over chance, as New Hampshire does, it can be harder to get your head around allowing games of chance no matter who is profiting. However, New Hampshire did see their way clear to allowing charitable bingo and raffles in 1949. There are some states that still do not allow this even today.

The next step that states generally take once they have added these two forms of gambling is to create a lottery, and New Hampshire takes a back seat to no one in this regard, being the first state to legalize it in 1964. It originally was called the New Hampshire Sweepstakes, and they started out selling tickets on draws based upon the results of horse races at Rockingham Park, and later grew into the modern lottery that the great majority of states now have.

The New Hampshire real money gambling scene remained limited to the lottery, pari-mutuel wagering, and charitable gambling, until 2014 came along. There was a bill that sought to allow poker rooms and casinos to operate with the state’s approval, but the attempt failed to get enough support and died.

We might think that this would mean that the effort to expand the state’s land-based gambling had failed, and that those who sought to see these casinos and poker rooms built would have to wait and fight another day. That’s not exactly what happened though. They just went ahead and opened the poker rooms and casinos anyway.

If something is at least supposed to be against the law, it usually requires that the law be changed, but in New Hampshire’s case, the authorities completely ignored what may or may not be legal to offer, even though poker and casino games that allow at least some skill was missed altogether by existing law.

There’s no indication that the state actually understood their own law well enough to have this as the reason why these types of gambling games were allowed to spring up and persist to this day. There’s even a few roulette tables in the state now, games that players do not influence at all by way of skill, although this at least started out just with poker and operators ended up trying their luck and betting that the state wouldn’t step in even when they offered real money casino games, and they won this bet.

To show that they both didn’t really understand their laws as well as their preference for games of skill, New Hampshire authorized daily fantasy sports betting in 2017, even though these contests are definitely among the things that you have an influence on the outcome.

Sports betting is also a game of skill, even though in this case bettors don’t have any influence on the outcome of their bets, although New Hampshire has now legalized sports betting as well. Slots remain outlawed, both by state law and in practice, and New Hampshire does not have a single legal slot machine aside from bingo machines, even though they offer real money poker, casino table games, and now sports betting.

New Hampshire Key Facts

  • Abbreviation: NH
  • State Motto: Live Free or Die
  • Capital City: Concord
  • Largest City: Manchester
  • Population Estimate: 1.36 Million (41st)
  • Website: www.nh.gov

New Hampshire Gambling Laws

The belief that the state of New Hampshire outlaws everything that we consider to be gambling is so widespread that we have yet to encounter anyone even providing proper legal analysis of their gambling laws, as it seems to just be assumed without really thinking about how their definition of gambling plays out in the real world.

This big miss includes those whose profession it is to interpret the law. There are many states where we end up shaking our heads at how badly these people tend to interpret and apply the law generally, in cases where it should be obvious even to lay people who don’t mind thinking a little, such as the idea that outlawing games of chance would prohibit betting on sports which are purely games of skill where chance does not even play any element in the outcomes.

While laws may also be misinterpreted by the judiciary, the starting point always has to be to look to the law itself, to at least start out on the right track prior to judicial interpretation, to come up with the best analysis we can and then leave it to the judges to hopefully get it right. It is not unusual for them to get things wrong as well.

Just like it is surprising that so many states do not prohibit sports betting by focusing exclusively on games of chance, it is also surprising that the view out there on New Hampshire’s gambling laws make the mistake of thinking that their law prohibits all forms of gambling and not just certain types.

There is a formula that some states use which does successfully include everything we consider gambling, including betting on pure games of chance such as slot machines, craps, or roulette, and others that do involve some element of skill such as blackjack, baccarat, and casino poker, some that are primarily games of skill such as poker and betting that both the bet and the outcome are entirely dependent upon skill, such as sports betting.

The successful formula involves both banning bets that are wholly or partially dependent on chance, which brings in everything but betting on the outcome of future events that do not include chance, and the banning of betting on contingent events, which is aimed at things ike betting on sports, the outcome of elections, or other future event-based wagers.

Some states just go with the bets on games of chance, and leave out the betting on contingent events part, which leaves event-based betting completely unaddressed. New Hampshire, oddly enough, doesn’t bother with the games of chance and completely depends on the second provision, betting on future contingent events.

Gambling or promoting gambling is against the law in New Hampshire, other than when expressly permitted, but we can’t stop there as many do, as this all depends on how they define gambling. They define it as risking “something of value upon a future contingent event not under one’s control or influence.” This is a provision that several states use, word for word, to stand alongside their banning games of chance, but in itself only bans certain types of what we normally define as gambling.

All wagering involves betting on contingent events, where the contingency functions as the unknown variable. You bet that Team A will beat Team B, and the contingency is the outcome of the game, the election, the deal, the roll, the spin, or whatever is to occur to go to decide the bet.

If only bets that we have no influence or control over are illegal, this means that all betting that is under our control or influence to any degree are legal. We do not have any control or influence over the outcomes of sporting events, unless we were directly involved as a participant or coach, or have bribed one of them.

What about playing poker? We definitely do exercise influence over the outcome of poker, over time as well as with each individual hand. Playing poker is clearly not gambling in New Hampshire, nor is any wagering where we influence the outcome, including all casino poker games, blackjack, baccarat, pai gow, and any other game where the decisions of the bettor influence the outcome.

The interesting part though is that New Hampshire, in contrast to just about anywhere else, sees games where players do not influence the outcome as the ones that they want to ban. The people who get arrested for operating illegal gambling in the state actually do promote gambling as defined by the state by operating slots.

Even though New Hampshire does tolerate public gambling, it is limited to poker and select table games where one does exercise influence over the outcomes, and this does line up with the overall scope of this law quite well in practice, as unaware of it as the state may be.

As it turns out, the belief that casino games are illegal but the state authorizes certain ones isn’t correct, as there are no laws against these other games, the ones that the state of New Hampshire tolerates even though there is no express law authorizing them. The crack in New Hampshire’s law is a big one but it ended up getting filled by the state having 8 venues that offer gambling games, even though the state has found a way to fill this crack in themselves, as you will see.

New Hampshire laws remain poorly understood though, where so few consider which games are within our influence and therefore would be exempt from this law, games where we employ skill to affect outcomes. This turns out not to matter much if a state is happy to look the other way when it comes to allowing casino gambling, as New Hampshire clearly does.

Land-Based Gambling in New Hampshire

New Hampshire may not have many land-based gambling venues but the 8 that they have is a whole lot more than the zero that the state has authorized. New Hampshire is certainly unique in that they had a casino bill failing prompt the building of casinos, as usually you have to get the bill to pass before you can build them.

New Hampshire had places where you could bet on either the horses or the dogs for over 70 years, but neither of these forms of betting ended up surviving the great gambling revival that has swept the country in recent times.

The New Hampshire Lottery was originally a sweepstakes held in conjunction with horse races, and has evolved into a modern lottery that offers both in state and interstate lottery games, as almost all of modern lotteries do these days.

Charitable gambling is legal, and charitable gambling becomes completely re-defined in this state. The goal of this is usually to allow genuine charitable organizations to offer a little bingo or raffles or similar, perhaps even offering casino nights occasionally, but allowing actual casinos usually aren’t on the menu. They are here.

New Hampshire’s failure to approve poker as a game of skill didn’t stop some people from opening up poker rooms as it turned out. The state legislature may not have wanted to define poker this way, seeing it as a game of skill of some magnitude, but no one could argue that it doesn’t have at least some element of skill, where the player does influence his or her results, on every hand in fact.

These poker rooms and casinos call themselves charity casinos, and at least pretend to be charities, so that the state of New Hampshire can pretend along and allow them to operate. This is far from church bingo though and are real poker rooms with casino tables to go along with them.

The way it works in New Hampshire is that gambling operators merely need to get a license as a charitable organization, and then they are allowed to consider the wagering as donations to the organization, made with the opportunity to win prizes, which lets them get around the normal charitable gaming limits. As much of a charade as this may be when used with real money poker or casino games, it is enough to make the state at least be able to pretend that they only have charitable gaming in the state.

Some of these so-called charity casinos just have poker, such as the Brook, built on the site of the old Seabrook greyhound track. However, the Brook does have 25 poker tables, so this is no small poker room by any means. True to their racing heritage, they also offer simulcast racing that you can bet on. Cheer’s Poker Room also has 25 poker tables, as well as 25 casino tables, rolling out blackjack, roulette, and several forms of casino poker. That’s a long way from what you could do in a church basement.

The Manchester Poker Room is another stand-alone poker room, but has the most tables of any poker room in the state with 30. While there are no slot machines allowed in New Hampshire, they do allow bingo-based gaming machines, which the Manchester offers to their poker players on the side.

The Boston Billiard Club and Casino offers 16 poker tables and 15 casino tables, as well as 17 billiard tables, making it a great spot for those who like to play poker and casino games and also shoot a little pool. The River Casino and Sports Bar adds 12 poker tables and 6 casino table games.

The Lakes Region Casino has 5 poker tables and 4 casino table games, in addition to offering pull tabs, as charitable casinos are also able to offer lottery tickets like this if they wish. Aces and Eights at Hampton Beach has a single poker table and 5 table games, with New Hampshire’s newest casino, Chaser’s Poker Room and Casino, rounding out the field.

New Hampshire has approved legal sports betting now, which isn’t going to require that bets be treated as donations to anyone. The online site Draft Kings have been selected to run both the online and land-based components, with 10 retail betting offices set up across the state now.

  • List of Land Based Casinos in New Hampshire
    CasinoAddressPhone
    The River Casino & Sports Bar53 High St, Nashua, NH 03060603-881-9060
    The Lakes Region Casino1265 Laconia Rd, Belmont, NH 03220603-267-7778
    Hampton Beach Casino169 Ocean Blvd, Hampton, NH 03842603-926-4541
    Boston Billiard Club & Casino55 Northeastern Blvd, Nashua, NH 03062603-943-5630
    Manchester Poker Room1279 S Willow St, Manchester, NH 03103603-668-6591
    Chaser's Poker Room & Casino7 Veterans Memorial Pkwy, Salem, NH 03079603-912-4604
    The Brook Casino319 New Zealand Rd, Seabrook, NH 03874603-474-3065

New Hampshire Online Casinos & Slots Gambling

New Hampshire may not have any in-person pari-mutuel wagering anymore, as the tracks are all closed now, but this wagering remains legal. There are several online sites that cater to off-track betting, offering their services to players where it is legal in their state to place these bets, and New Hampshire is one of them.

Other than this, New Hampshire had absolutely no approved online gambling up until they rolled out online sports betting in 2020. There’s only one site, but a very popular one, Draft Kings. In a state that didn’t have very much gambling, being able to wager on sports online greatly expands the reach of state regulated gambling.

This does not mean though that real money online sports betting has just come to the state, and far from it, as New Hampshirites have been betting on sports and on everything else you could gamble on online for a long time now. New Hampshire may not have licensed any online gambling sites besides the Draft Kings one that they recently approved, but there are lots of such sites that are licensed in other countries that players from New Hampshire may take advantage of.

New Hampshire may prefer games of skill such as sports betting, but they just don’t have any say in what their people prefer to play online. In spite of what may or may not be legal to do online in New Hampshire, or how the courts may wish to interpret how state law applies to various forms, questions about what may or may not be under a player’s influence, this does not matter if there is no way to enforce whatever prohibitions may exist.

We can show you the best of what New Hampshirites can gamble online for real money, sites that both welcome players from the state and meet our high standards. Among those who choose to gamble online, it is important to be guided to the right sites, but with this in hand, the best of real money poker and real money casinos becomes something that you stop waiting for and start enjoying now.

Other state guides
Future of Gambling in New Hampshire

New Hampshire isn’t as opposed to gambling as it may appear to be, and we need to remember that they were one of the first states to authorize betting on horses and the very first state to get the lottery.

New Hampshire’s 8 poker rooms and casinos may operate under the guise of charitable gambling but whatever they wish to call them, these are full-fledged poker rooms and casinos. The charity part of this works seamlessly, as you would never know that these games were any different from playing them in regular casinos, because there actually is no difference.

The state’s recent approval of both land-based and online sports betting may serve to loosen up the state’s view toward gambling in general, but the current land-based offerings do a decent job at least of covering the market, and we can reasonably presume that if the gambling market could support more of these charitable casinos, we would already have them.

There still may be an opportunity for expansion by allowing for the real deal, big time casino gambling that is. New Hampshire isn’t that big, and nearby Boston is in itself has a metro population of 8.3 million, compared to New Hampshire’s 1.3 million people, so it would be too much to expect anything remotely close to the Encore Boston Harbor, which stands up to the best Vegas casinos.

Should New Hampsirites have the appetite for such a thing, Boston is right next door. New Hampshire does have some potential for some resort casinos though, and while their current lineup of casinos cater to locals, it’s possible that something with the potential to draw from a much bigger area to be built one day when the state finally decides to allow it.

Not being fond of slots is the major roadblock, and even though the state has real money poker rooms, casino table gaming, and now sports betting, the closest that you are allowed to get to slots in this state is to play electronic bingo. This isn’t exactly the sort of thing that slot machine lovers enjoy, and bigger casinos aren’t going to come with only the means to offer something like this as far as electronic gaming goes, as slots are the main money maker for them.

For similar reasons, New Hampshire authorizing real money online casinos will have to wait until this view towards slots changes, but times do change and we will likely see this happen sooner or later. For now though, New Hampshirites need not limit themselves to just betting on horse races or on sporting events online, as we can show you the best sites to play at if you choose to follow our lead.

New Hampshire Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
  • When did New Hampshire get its start with gambling?

    New Hampshire started out being pretty conservative toward gambling, even though it did go on outside the law. New Hampshire got its first horse race track in 1906, but betting on horses wasn’t legal. This didn’t stop New Hampshirites from doing it, and by 1933, the state of New Hampshire finally gave in and legalized betting on horses, and later, on greyhound races.

  • What does New Hampshire law say about gambling?

    It is illegal to either gamble or promote gambling in New Hampshire, as it is in most states. You can’t just stop there though as gambling is a pretty broad category, so states need to define what they mean by gambling under the law, because they only intend to prohibit certain types of gambling, the making of certain wagers for money. Whatever falls under their definition of gambling becomes the included part.

  • How does New Hampshire define gambling?

    For the purposes of this law, gambling is defined as wagering items of value based upon contingent outcomes not under one’s control or influence. If the actions of the person making the wager do not affect the outcome, like playing the lottery, a slot machine, roulette, craps, wheel of fortune, sports betting, or any other wager that does not depend on players influencing the results, it involves the act of gambling.

  • What did New Hampshire law leave out?

    The most obvious exclusion to this would be the game of poker, as there is no arguing that the actions that players make when playing this game do influence the results. This is how we can distinguish between good and bad players. If you can play well or badly, you surely can affect your outcomes. Other games like blackjack, baccarat, casino poker, pai gow, or other games involving any degree of skill would also influence outcomes.

  • What types of legal gambling does New Hampshire have?

    New Hampshire started its legal gambling era with allowing pari-mutuel wagering, and while there are no longer racetracks in the state, the state allows players to place these wagers online. New Hampshire was the first state to approve a lottery, and has also had charitable gambling for over 70 years. They now also have approved both land-based and online sports betting.

  • Does New Hampshire therefore allow poker rooms?

    There are indeed poker rooms in New Hampshire, with most also offering certain types of casino table gambling, games that involve skill, influencing the outcome. If we didn’t know better, we could even say that the state understands their gambling law and allow these places to operate because these games do not consist of gambling. New Hampshire does allow these places, but not for this reason.

  • What reasoning does New Hampshire use to allow these poker rooms and casinos?

    New Hampshire uses their exemption that they grant charitable organizations in offering gambling, where they require poker rooms and casinos to register as charities. The wagers that players make at the poker tables and at the casino gaming tables that they offer are understood as making a donation to the casino, in exchange for a chance to win a prize. The games proceed as normal and this is complete pretense, but does the job.

  • Why doesn’t New Hampshire allow slots?

    It is unusual to see a state be happy enough with offering casino table games like blackjack but not allow real money slot machines at all. This usually works the other way around, where the approval of slots come first and table games get approved later, if at all. Aside from the lottery, New Hampshire does show a strong preference toward games of skill, and slots are definitely not a matter of skill, which may explain this.

  • What are the chances of New Hampshire opening up more soon?

    New Hampshire’s dislike of slot machines is the main thing that is preventing the state from progressing further. The move to legalize sports betting, including even online sports betting, is real progress, but sports betting is a game of skill. This is holding back both the allowing of regular casinos, who rely heavily on slots, as well as online casinos, and there are none that do not offer slots. Online poker is more of a possibility at some point down the road.

  • Can you bet on more than sports online in New Hampshire?

    While sports betting being authorized by the state has had a huge impact on the availability of gambling in New Hampshire, there remains a lot of players from this state who would also like to enjoy real money online poker and real money casino gambling. The good news is that you can, with the right guide, and once you realize that there is nothing stopping you from playing either type of real money online gambling, we’ll show you the best places to go.

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Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.