Vermont Sports Betting Bill Advances After Some Minor Changes

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A general view of the Vermont State House, located in Montpelier, Vermont. Image from the Vermont State House Wikipedia official page (Creative Commons).

Although in some states it is not yet a reality, it seems that sports betting in Vermont is not wasting any more time. The Green Mountain State’s Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee revised and advanced House Bill 127. ​​After making some minor changes, Senators voted H127 out of committee (with the changes) by a margin of 4-1.

These changes, as well as the overall plan, which would legalize sports betting through mobile applications and websites, will eventually require Senate approval. If H127 is not altered (anymore), it must be approved by the House of Representatives, which has already passed the bill.

The Finance Committee will be the next stop, followed by the Senate floor. The Vermont legislature adjourns on May 19.

Tweaks Made to the Original Bill

A phrase requiring authorities to devise a way to allow a joint bank account holder to exclude the account from online sportsbooks was removed by the committee. There was concern about potential problems with the provision, as well as reassurance that authorities already had the authority to address such issues. 

Another tweak was the removal of a provision in the bill that limited how much the liquor and lottery departments and operators may spend on sportsbook advertising in the state. And a funding mechanism was added for the mental health department’s problem gambling program. H127 now requires the Department of Liquor and Lottery to contribute 5% of annual sports wagering revenue to the program in each fiscal year beginning after 2025. 

“We have the ability to put the safeguards in place with the procedures that is much easier to change than coming back once a year with a General Assembly that has a multitude of issues,”  Wendy Knight, the commissioner of the Department of Liquor and Lottery, said during the committee meeting.

H127 Also Sets a Sports Betting Age Limit

The measure would place legal sports betting under the jurisdiction of the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery. The department would pick two to six operators of mobile sportsbooks to accept bets in the state through a competitive bidding process. Bookmakers would have to send over a portion of sports betting money, and that portion could not be less than 20% of adjusted receipts.

To wager, bettors must be 21 or older and physically present in the state. With a few exceptions, sportsbooks will be able to provide a wide range of betting markets, such as a prohibition on taking action on Vermont colleges unless they are competing in a tournament like March Madness. Credit cards will not be accepted.

Vermont Getting Closer to Legalizing Sports Betting

Vermont is the only state in New England where sports betting is not legalized. However, legislators have been working to change that over the last year. They put together a research committee that submitted a report near the end of 2022. The group recommended that the state legalize event wagering. 

And now, with H127 clearing another hurdle, it looks like it may be just a matter of time before Vermont is added to the list of states with legalized sports betting.

*Bookmakers Review will continue to monitor the developments.