New Hampshire never has enacted any law authorizing or prohibiting online poker, nor has the state ever seriously considered doing so. Thus it would fall to the courts, with state officials arguing that existing anti-gambling laws prohibit online poker and online poker operators and players that sites outside the bounds of New Hampshire are not subject to the state’s jurisdiction.
To our knowledge these competing theories have never been tested in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire occupies an odd place in the poker laws of the 50 states. Although the state does not license or regulate for-profit poker rooms, and has no tribal casino operations at all, charitable poker rooms are permitted under New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated Chapter 287-D.
Chapter 287-D authorizes “games of chance” to be conducted by charitable organizations and defines “games of chance” as any game involving gambling as defined by New Hampshire’s criminal gambling statute. That statute, NHRSA §647:2 uses a definition of gambling almost identical to that used in New York – a definition that New York courts routinely have held includes poker in its scope.
In effect, what this web of laws and regulations has created in New Hampshire is a number of licensed charitable poker rooms, that look, operate and feel like for-profit poker rooms but that donate their profits to a specified charity. There are at least seven such poker rooms scattered across the state.
Outside of these poker rooms, poker is illegal in New Hampshire. As mentioned above, it falls squarely within the state criminal code’s definition of gambling. Gambling is a misdemeanor in New Hampshire. Operating a gambling business like an unlicensed poker room is a felony.
By the way, there is no social or home game exception to be found in New Hampshire law. Section 647:2 criminalizes not only the act of gambling, but permitting gambling “in any place under the person’s control”. That would include a person’s home, although there are no reported cases of home games ever being raided by New Hampshire law enforcement personnel.