Let’s face a reality that most New Hampshirites won’t: In terms of economy and culture, the entire southern bit of the state, including the bigger towns Manchester and Seabrook, is essentially North Boston. And so it goes with football in New Hampshire as well: While a few of the state’s colleges field football teams (albeit in a lower division), most folks in New Hampshire follow the Boston College Eagles and/or Boston University Terriers – and of course the New England Patriots…
Betting in New Hampshire
Politically (and thus legislatively), New Hampshire has over the past 25 years become on the country’s purplest states in the country. Quite literally this can be seen in no area as much in the 2010s as in questions of legalized betting in the state.
While you can bet there was betting going on in New Hampshire as far back as colonial times, proper legal gambling in the modern age may be traced back to the 1930s. Among those states seemingly paradoxically liberalizing laws regarding horse racing in the days of the Great Depression was New Hampshire. In 1933, the rules for pari-mutuel horse racing were established and tracks opened soon thereafter.
In 1963, New Hampshire was first in the U.S. to introduce a state lottery; in ’72, greyhound racing began in New Hampshire, which ultimately had three such tracks in operation through the 90s.
Ironically, though New Hampshire enjoyed some of the best economic indicators in the country during the 2010s, profits were not seen at the state’s dog- and horse tracks. Today, no such racing exists in New Hampshire. On the plus side, former tracks such as Seabrook Park (despite the lack of greyhounds, it’s still called such) have been converted to simulcast centers, where pari-mutuel betting on races across the country is allowed. Seabrook Park and some other establishments are also able to exploit loopholes in New Hampshire gambling law so as to offer poker and occasional charity-based casino nights.
During Gov. Hassan’s term in 2014, some 10 pieces of legislation to establish more casino gaming in New Hampshire were submitted to the state legislature; all but one died there. Other rapid leaps forward to establishing more legalized betting in New Hampshire (those recently successfully taken by Maine and Massachusetts, incidentally) are expected to roll back a bit in the late 10s, as the highly casino-friendly governor Maggie Hassan has moved on to the U.S. Senate. Chris Sununu, elected governor in 2016, leans pro-casino, but he’s hardly the crusader Hassan was.
Football in New Hampshire
With top-divisoin college football programs to its credit, New Hampshire’s sole truly nationally-known college football team is the Dartmouth Big Green, actual one-time national champions. No joke: Back in 1925, the team went 8-0 under the leadership of coach Jesse Hawley and dominated college ‘ball in the northeast.
However, 1925 was a groundbreaking year in college football due in part to Dartmouth’s undefeated season. On January 1 of ’26, the first-ever Rose Bowl was held and the first great Alabama Crimson Tide team capped a 9-0 regular season by topping the heretofore 10-0-1 University of Washington Huskies, 20-19. However, the Ivy League champions – who counted three all-Americans in their ranks – argued a probably already familiar argument: Dartmouth had played higher-quality competition than Alabama, conference or no; in fact, the Tide hadn’t met their equally undefeated Southern Conference mates, the 9-0-1 Tulane Green Wave.
Suffice to say that Dartmouth and Alabama were crowned co-champions are criteria for choosing a national champion were put into place for ’26. Dartmouth would never really seriously compete for the no. 1 overall again, but have bagged 18 Ivy League titles since the division was formed in 1954.
In other college football, the University of New Hampshire Wildcats currently play in the FCS’s Colonial Athletic Association; the Wildcats have enjoyed some nice success lately, making the FCS playoffs every single postseason from 2004 to ’17.
And NFLbets’d be remiss without mentioning the Plymouth State Panthers, who got their 15 minutes of fame back in the 1980s, temporarily putting the Division III school on the national radar thanks to a guy named Joe Dudek. In his senior year of 1985, Dudek scored his 66th touchdown breaking the record for career college TDs previously set by Walter Payton at Jackson State. In November of that year, Sports Illustrated (back when it mattered) endorsed Dudek for the Heisman Trophy award, arguing that Dudek’s relative dominance should earn him consideration.
The local hero ultimately finished 9th in the voting, with the trophy going to Bo Jackson. Dudek played a couple of games in the NFL as a scab with the Denver Broncos in the strike year of 1987 before dropping back into obscurity, though his exploits’ll be remembered at PSU and among New Hampshire football fandom for some time to come. And Dudek’s name remains in the NCAA record books next to two stats that ould be damn tough to beat in the era of one-and-dones: Career 100-yard games (30) and multi-TD games (22).
Betting on Football in New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, gambling law started with the illegalization of all forms of betting; each subsequent addendum to the original law (and many have been enacted through the centuries) must be codified into the law. And happily, daily fantasy sports betting has undergone this legislative process already.
As for expansion to betting in football in New Hampshire, well, the state’s purpleness will require those wanting to know to get out the crystal ball foretell in the post-Hassan era; Hassan was certainly the most pro-gambling governor this state had seen in 40 years, and she’s gone. Gov. Sununu, to serve through 2021, appears amenable to the idea of expanding betting on football and other gambling in New Hampshire – he distinguished himself as the most progressive on the issue among Republican candidates in the runup to the general election – but has not offered any clear indication of a plan to date.
One who think that gambling getting legalized in New Hampshire is inevitable, however, with the general outlook of the citizenry in general, but more specifically to the fact that the state’s New England neighbors are certain to proclaim enviable success with their casinos – just look at Connecticut, for Bugsy’s sake…