Vermont Sports Betting Study Committee Gets Stakeholder Input

Written By J.R. Duren on September 29, 2022
Will Vermont join its neighbors in legalized sports betting?

As local legislators ponder Vermont sports betting, the General Assembly’s Sports Betting Study Committee is working its way through what it should consider when crafting sports betting legislation.

Earlier this week, the committee held an in-person/Zoom meeting in which it heard from three stakeholders: a DraftKings rep, a gambler, and a consumer protection expert from the Vermont attorney general’s office.

DraftKings lays out how online sportsbook works, highlights responsible gaming

Rebecca London, a DraftKings government affairs manager, attended the meeting in-person to provide an operator demonstration.

London walked the committee through:

  • How players sign up for a DraftKings sportsbook account
  • How to place a wager
  • Which responsible gambling tools the book provides, such as daily, weekly, and monthly betting limits

After London’s demonstration, Rep. Carol Ode asked her who dictates what type of responsible gaming material is put on the DraftKings app and website.

“A lot of it is dictated by the regulator and them sharing or regulating what information they want us to provide to consumers,” London said. “We take pride in our responsible gaming approach, and, so, we want to make sure that players have the tools that they need to be able to play within their means.”

When the committee pressed about what role Vermont’s regulators could have in where and when players see responsible gaming, London said that could be covered in a separate conversation.

Rep. Dick Sears then threw a curve ball. He said that he just went on to a Bovada offshore site and wondered if overregulating sports betting might push bettors to stay on offshore sites.

Committee Chair Wendy Knight responded, saying the concern was a good one and that it should be brought up with the state’s Cannabis Control Board.

“I think that’s a valid point that we are going to talk about when we have the discussion with the Cannabis Control Board of, ‘How do you take an illicit market and bring it into a legal market?’” she said. “So, we want to definitely look at those lessons learned there of what to do and what not to do.”

Vermont sports bettor talks about his experiences

John Herko, a Vermont resident, shared his experiences with sports betting and fielded questions from the committee.

Herko said his gambling experience goes back decades and includes legal sportsbooks and illegal bookies. He said he believes Vermont is missing out because it’s not generating sports betting revenue. Also, he’s hoping for the convenience that legalized sports betting apps bring.

“It’s been interesting to reflect back on the experience on this subject because it goes back a long time. [I have] several interests in this. One, as a taxpayer, I think that the state is missing out on revenue. As a player, it would be nice to have the convenience of being able to take advantage of the DraftKings app.”

A committee member asked Herko about his thoughts on DraftKings’ responsible gaming measures.

As a player and a citizen, I support what you just saw on the DK site where a player is able to set deposit limits by day, week, or month,” he said.

Regulator details consumer protection rules already in place for fantasy sports

Christopher Curtis, chief of the public protection division in the Vermont attorney general’s office, was the final speaker. He detailed some of the regulations in place for the state’s fantasy sports operators. 

He covered prohibited and regulated conduct of fantasy sports operators and consumer disclosures.

His point? To see if what exists on the books in Vermont is something that regulators can use for sports betting.

“I think the question for this committee, or an important question for this committee, is, ‘Is much of what’s here applicable to the online sports gaming industry, generally?’” Curtis asked. “‘Are there additional safeguards that ought to be required?’ And, ‘How does the state go about squaring about what might be a requirement in online sports gaming, generally, versus what has heretofore been a much narrower segment of the fantasy sports universe?’

The committee then discussed what sports betting should borrow from fantasy sports, and what should be regulations versus statutes.

What’s next for Vermont sports betting?

The committee has two key meetings coming up in October. First, the group will have its regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 4. Two weeks after that (Oct. 18) the committee will hold a public hearing about sports betting from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The meetings and stakeholder discussions are a normal part of the process that states go through to formulate sports betting regulations.

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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