Vermont Legalizes Online Sports Betting: Governor Scott Signs Historic Bill

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A general view of the Vermont State House, located in Montpelier, Vermont. Image taken from the Friends of the Vermont State House official Facebook page.

Vermont sports betting enthusiasts have reason to celebrate as Green Mountain State has now become the third state to legalize online sports betting this year after Gov. Phil Scott signed H127 into law Wednesday, June 14. All six New England states have now regulated digital sports betting with Vermont and Maine yet to launch.

Governor Signs Sports Betting Bill

Now that online sports betting is a reality that will see between two and six online platform providers serving Vermont’s betting public, the vetting process for those operators – along with the rules and regulations – will now be crafted.

Unlike many other sports betting bills that have been passed in other U.S. jurisdictions, retail betting is not part of the equation. The projections for revenue generated by the sports betting bill are modest compared to other markets, as Vermont is the second least populated state in the nation with only 647,000 according to last year’s census numbers. Wyoming is the least populated state with just 581,000 people.

Because of the limited number of people in the state, Vermont is expected to have a relatively lower tax rate to attract sportsbook providers. Estimates of between 10 and 20% as a tax levy predicated on adjusted gross revenue are expected to be in the range of what Vermont will want as part of its revenue-sharing program under the auspices of the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery.

However, if the tax is on the upper end, it could preclude many of the operators from entering the market which would prompt the state to limit the number of platform providers to only two.

Such a move would likely induce those operators to enter the market with limited competition. New Hampshire is one such example that imposed a nation-high 51% rate, along with New York, in exchange for DraftKings being their only licensed sportsbook in the state.

When Will It Launch?

The minimum age for sports betting in the state will be 21 and the launch won’t occur until sometime next year. The vetting process for sportsbooks will also begin to take shape immediately with many of the major sportsbooks expected to throw their hats in the ring if the tax rate is palatable.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said in a prepared statement, “We know many Vermonters already participate in the marketplace, and bringing it above board provides important resources and consumer protections. Vermont now joins many other states who have made this move.”

Wendy Knight, the Commissioner of the Dept. of Liquor and Lottery, said, “The NFL regular season ends January 7th and that’s when the playoff season starts, so we’ll be real primed for the NFL playoffs. We will evaluate them based on the criteria that the board will approve, and then we will make a selection. We will notify the operators of which ones were chosen for contract negotiations and we’ll then negotiate and execute those contracts.”

Vermont’s Department of Mental Health will be charged with creating responsible gambling programs and resources. “There still is a need to educate and make sure people are aware of some of the myths of problem gambling, which is often that it’s totally skill-based and ‘I have this completely under control,'” said Alison Krompf, Deputy Commissioner of the Dept. of Mental Health.