Gov. Hassan signs charity gambling oversight law; millions at stake every year at small events

New Hampshire now has greater oversight of charity gambling events, which account for millions of dollars raised each year.

Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill into law Monday that gives the attorney general's office and the Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission more power to audit and investigate the games.

The idea of greater oversight for such events as Monte Carlo nights evolved last fall while the state was considering whether to allow full-blown casinos in the state.

A consultant hired by the state noted the state has a high concentration of table games such as roulette and blackjack where as much as $75 million is bet annually in the name of 389 charities.

"This bipartisan legislation implements important charitable gaming reforms that will strengthen our ability to effectively regulate the millions of dollars in gambling already taking place in New Hampshire," Hassan said in a statement.

New Hampshire has allowed the mini-casino operations since 1977 with few limits other than on the size of the bet and the maximum days a charity can sponsor an event. Unlike commercial casinos, the maximum bet is $4, regulations aren't as stringent and video slot machines are illegal though some operators provide them as game machines that pay out prizes instead of cash.

A law change in 2006 allowed private operators to run the games and turned the traditional Monte Carlo nights into seven-day-a-week, full-scale operations that rake in millions of dollars annually.

The new oversight is expected to cost the Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission an additional $200,000 in 2016 and about $215,000 by 2018. That includes adding an internal audit supervisor, two inspectors and a part-time paralegal.

The Department of Justice expects to spend about $500,000 more each year regulating the games. It will hire four temporary full-time investigators, a permanent investigator, a full-time financial analyst and full-time legal secretary. The office also expects to hire a full-time attorney.