Getting final legislative approval for Vermont sports betting legislation went about as smoothly as maple syrup.
The Vermont House approved Senate changes to the Vermont sports betting bill Tuesday by voice vote. The vote came after two committees, Ways and Means (12-0) and Government Ops (9-2-1), advised the House to concur.
Vermont sports betting now heads to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott for his signature. Scott, who previously included sports betting revenue into his executive budget, is expected to approve the bill becoming law.
Bill author Rep. Matt Birong wasn’t wrong when he told PlayUSA he had no doubt the legislation would reach the finish line after initial House passage. Birong began work on Vermont sports betting more than three years ago.
“After three-plus years of committee work, studies, debate and hard work, we have finally passed a robust and responsible sports wagering bill,” Birong told PlayUSA after House concurrence Tuesday.
Vermont joins Kentucky as the second state to pass sports betting legislation this year. It will be the final New England state to legalize sports betting.
Details of Vermont sports betting bill
Birong explained the Senate changes on the floor. The biggest change related to licensing fee structure.
Here are the main details of HB 127:
- Appoints the Department of Liquor and Lottery (DLL) to oversee Vermont sports betting.
- Instructs the DLL to choose between 2 and 6 online sports betting operators through a competitive bidding process.
- Each operator must share at least 20% of the revenue with the state. The DLL can negotiate a higher number.
- Operators pay a one-time initial licensing fee of $550,000. This covers a license duration of at least three years. The DLL and operators could negotiate a longer contract.
- Sports bettors must be a minimum of 21 years of age.
- Prohibits gambling on in-state college teams, except in tournaments such as March Madness.
- Does not allow placing bets with credit cards.
- Establishes a problem gambling program in the Department of Mental Health funded by 5% of sports wagering tax revenue.
Rep. Anne Donahue was the only member to speak against the Senate changes. She expressed concern with how the bill handles preventing advertising to minors. The language passed by the House required operators to cooperative develop their advertising plan with the Department of Liquor and Lottery. The department will still have final approval of advertising plans included in operator contracts.
Vermont sports betting could launch in January
During Senate passage, Senate Majority Leader Alison Clarkson laid out a timeline for Vermont sports betting. She projected a market launch in January.
Here’s Clarkson’s full Vermont sports betting timeline:
- May: Governor signs sports betting bill into law.
- July: RFPs issued to operators and posted to the DLL website.
- August: Sportsbook operators submit bids.
- September: DLL selects winners.
- October-December: DLL commissioner negotiates and executes contracts.
- January: Vermont sports betting launches.