Vermont might have been the last of three states to legalize sports betting in 2023, but it could be the first of those three to actually get its regulated sportsbooks up and running. The state’s regulatory body has already completed a draft of rules governing the activity.
While it’s uncertain how quickly those will go from draft to enforceable, the development puts Vermont on a trajectory to have legal sports betting available in the final quarter of 2023. That timeline would put the state in position to capitalize on some opportunities.
Vermont draft rules accelerate timeline
Since Gov. Phil Scott signed the bill legalizing sports betting in Vermont, the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery (DLL) has wasted no time. The DLL has a draft of regulations governing legal sports betting in the state up for public review.
The rules are still pending final approval and could see some adjustments. The DLL board has a meeting scheduled on July 13. The agenda for that meeting currently does not include any items explicitly connected to sports wagering, however.
That doesn’t mean the DLL board won’t take up any related matters during that meeting, though. Besides finalizing the regulations, the DLL needs to also complete a request for proposals (RFP). The law requires the DLL to issue at least two sportsbook licenses. The cap in the law stands at six licenses.
After the RFP goes out, the DLL will then consider bids and make decisions on which to award licenses to. After licensees complete applications and reviews, the DLL could issue authorizations for sportsbooks to actually start taking bets.
That all could possibly take place in the next five months. However, there’s no guarantee that will be the case. There is a significant incentive to continuing to move at a rapid pace.
NFL playoffs represent opportunity for Vermont
Each year, Super Bowl Sunday betting represents the biggest single day for US wagering. March Madness represents the most lucrative event for sportsbooks on an annual basis. Next to those is the NFL postseason.
A late 2023 launch would enable Vermont sportsbooks to start off on the right foot by using the 2024 NFL playoffs to market themselves. That interest could result in a tax haul for Vermont that would be hard to replace if sportsbooks aren’t up and running in time.
It’s difficult to ascertain exactly how much Vermont could expect to pull in from tax revenue on NFL postseason betting. That’s because a revenue share is part of the competitive license bidding process. The law sets the floor for such an arrangement at a 20% take for the state but the actual rate could be higher.
Stipulations around marketing for the NFL playoffs and other events are part of what is in the draft rules.
Highlights of the DLL’s draft regulations
Among perhaps the most notable stipulations in the draft rules are prohibitions and requirements for advertisements related to online sports betting. Part VII of the rules covers that aspect of the gambling activity.
The rules reinforce the prohibition on advertising using collegiate trademarks, being conducted near/on college campuses, or targeting college students in Vermont. That includes athletic conferences that Vermont institutions are part of.
The rules also require advertisements to present information to Vermonters on how they can opt out of receiving such marketing materials. Furthermore, they restrict the usage of certain language around promotions like “risk-free.”
Another segment of the rules, in Part VIII, is noteworthy. The rules state that sportsbook operators may not deduct any amounts from their taxable revenue unless the DLL grants prior approval. In some states, sportsbook operators can deduct the value of promotional play they give to bettors from that revenue.
At the same time, the rules do allow sportsbooks to carry forward any losses they might incur during a particular month to the next month against their taxes owed. At this time, all of this language along with the entire draft is tentative.
A quick approval to the rules could keep Vermont on track to have legal sports betting before the calendar turns to 2024.