Published: June 7, 2023

Vermont sports betting will become legal

Although the state is one of the smallest in the U.S. by population, its legalization of sports betting opens up another potential market for operators.

Vermont’s governor will sign a bill next week that could bring online sports betting sites to the Green Mountain State before the upcoming NFL season ends. 

The Vermont legislature website indicates H.127, legislation that will bring legal sports betting to the state via mobile apps and sites, was delivered to the governor on Thursday. A spokesperson for Gov. Phil Scott told Covers that he is scheduled to sign the bill next week on Wednesday. 

The expectation among lawmakers is that the first wagers could be accepted by January of next year, although an earlier start is possible if regulators move swiftly and receive compelling bids from operators.

While the state is one of the smallest in the U.S. by population, its legalization of sports betting opens up another potential market for operators. Every state in the New England region will have authorized some form of event wagering as well, meaning Vermont bettors will no longer take their business elsewhere and can wager from their homes.

In short, H.127 will legalize sports betting in Vermont and put it under the oversight of the state's Department of Liquor and Lottery (DLL). The department would conduct a competitive bidding process to select between two to six operators of online sportsbooks to take bets in the state via computer, phone, and tablet. That said, if the process fails to turn up enough qualified candidates, the department could decide to authorize a single operator — or none at all. 

Bookmakers would turn over a cut of their revenue to the state in return for access to the Vermont sports betting market. That tax, so to speak, would be applied to at least 20% of the revenue that's left after paying winning bettors and the federal handle tax. Operators would also pay a $550,000 fee up front, which can't be reassessed for at least three years.

A recent note from the Vermont Legislative Joint Fiscal Office forecast legal sports betting will generate around $2 million in revenue for the state in its 2024 fiscal year, and between $4.6 million and $10.6 million the year thereafter. 

The destination for some of that revenue is written into the soon-to-be law, such as $250,000 in the first year to establish a problem-gambling program and $100,000 for a self-exclusion system. The other funds would flow to the state government. 

“The bill establishes the Sports Wagering Enterprise Fund and the revenue generated will be collected by [the department] and deposited in the fund,” the fiscal note said. “Funds in the account will be transferred to the General Fund annual via a direct application annually, similar to the process followed for proceeds from liquor sales carried out by DLL.”

Who can bet?

H.127 was passed by the legislature in May after months of deliberation and study by lawmakers and regulators. 

Under the provisions of the bill, Vermont residents will have to be 21 or older to wager using the state's new betting sites. Accounts can be funded in a variety of ways, but the use of credit cards is prohibited.

Players will have a wide variety of sports to bet on, but there are a few exceptions. One is that wagering on Vermont colleges is not allowed unless they are playing in a tournament.

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