Vermont Legislative Committee Ready To Recommend Legal Online Gambling

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on December 8, 2022
Vermont lawmakers study advocating legal online sports betting

Vermont lawmakers are advancing a study that advocates legalizing online sports betting in the state. The General Assembly’s Sports Betting Study Committee is working its way through to legalize Vermont sports betting.

But some Democratic lawmakers in the House remain skeptical. They believe such a major expansion of state-permitted gambling is not worth the risk.

Lawmakers with doubts are worried that it will lead to new gambling addictions and inflict financial devastation.

In June last year, Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill into law that will launch a study of legalized sports betting. The governor hoped it would stimulate the state legislature to take action.

Vermont is the only northeastern state that still hasn’t approved any form of legal sports betting.

Vermont lawmakers advocating for sports betting legalization

The recommendations of a nine-member study committee, finalized on Dec. 6, may change some minds. The committee has been investigating sports betting and agreed to recommend legalizing the fast-growing activity.

However, members also recognized restrictions that could soften legislators’ fears, such as:

  • Making transactions online only as opposed to in person
  • Daily and weekly bet limits
  • Payment by cash and debit card only — no credit cards

Members of the committee also suggested a bidding process among sports betting operators that want to operate in the state. The committee believes it would help maximize the government’s share of the take.

The state’s Sports Betting Study Committee’s report to lawmakers is due on Dec. 15.

$7 billion industry to consider

With millions of dollars generated in tax revenue annually, there will be intense pressure on Vermont lawmakers to at least consider legalization.

Since the US Supreme Court allowed states to legalize sports betting in 2018, the activity has grown into a $7 billion industry. On the other hand, it is estimated that offshore sites represent another $3.8 billion, according to the American Gaming Association.

New Hampshire, which chose a single online sportsbook to operate in the state, expected to generate nearly $10 million in annual tax revenue. Surprisingly, it took in $24 million last year and expects $30 million next year, McIntyre told the committee.

When New York began taking bets in January, it allowed nine operators to launch. With a 51% tax rate, it became the largest US betting market, generating $546 million in taxes in just 10 months.

Vermont is the only northeastern state without legal gambling

Currently, 36 states and Washington, D.C., have approved online or in-person betting. That also includes New York and all New England states except for Vermont.

Vermont is the only northeastern state where gambling is illegal, so Vermonters can only drive to casinos outside the state. Some players choose to go to casinos in New York or visit sports betting lounges in New Hampshire.

Vermonters cannot place legal sports bets on their phones or computers either.

That’s because online sportsbooks feature safeguards that require them to confirm players’ identities, addresses and physical locations. The casino apps use advanced geolocation software to ensure that bets are placed only within the legal US markets.

For the time being, the study committee has recommended allowing betting online only, not at Vermont retail locations. Vermont committee suggested the state issues licenses to between two and six online-only sports betting operators selected through a bidding process.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for PlayUSA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario’s online gambling industry for PlayCanada.com. Vojvodic holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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