Vermont is slowly becoming surrounded by sports betting neighbors, with New York, New Hampshire, and Canada in various stages of legalizing and implementing the industry. Rhode Island and Connecticut are just over there, too.
Though the scenic state isn’t one of the main targets of the industry — it has a small population of around 600,000 and no powerhouse pro or college sports teams — it could become another piece of the national sports betting puzzle. Like its neighbor New Hampshire, it could find a way to use legal sports betting profits to boost state budgets via the state lottery.
However, progress has been as slow as Vermont maple syrup in January. Legislators may have stopped waffling, but it’s still a relative unknown. Read on for the latest on Vermont sports betting.
Is sports betting legal in Vermont?
No, sports betting is not legal in Vermont but the first movements are taking place. In June of 2021, Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill ordering a study of legalizing sports betting in the state. The study must be complete by Oct. 15.
Four state senators introduced a sports betting bill, too. In February of 2021, Sens. Christopher Pearson, Dick Sears, Michael Sirotkin and Richard Westerman filed a sports betting bill for Vermont that would have allowed for as many as six online sportsbooks. The bill, however, is in limbo and hasn’t made any progress.
Does Vermont have legal online sportsbooks?
No. Because Vermont has not legalized sports betting, there are no legal online sports betting outlets. But here’s where we must warn you to beware of offshore sports betting websites. They may look and seem OK, but are far from the legal, licensed sports betting sites you find in neighboring states. Offshore sportsbooks are illegal, and playing on them is risky. There is no legal recourse if the site doesn’t pay out your winnings, if your personal registration information is stolen, or if anything else goes wrong.
So while Vermont online sports betting is illegal, don’t push your luck by playing on an offshore, unregulated site.
When will Vermont allow sports betting?
The timeline is up in the air. Scott signed a bill ordering a study of legalizing sports betting in the state in June 2021. For a state with little previous appetite to authorize sports betting, and few forms of legal gambling except for daily fantasy sports, charitable gambling, and a state lottery, this marks considerable progress. Scott’s action was tacked onto an act related to takeout orders of alcohol at bars and restaurants, and he has identified programs that could benefit from legal sports betting, such as children’s after-school programs.
The formation of such search committees preceded the eventual legalization of sports betting in other states like Illinois and Louisiana, so this study is a promising start.
Can you play daily fantasy sports in Vermont?
Yes, daily fantasy sports are currently legal and available in Vermont. Major national brands like FanDuel and DraftKings compete for customers in the state. Meanwhile, DraftKings enjoys a sports betting monopoly next door in New Hampshire.
Who will regulate Vermont sports betting?
It’s too early to say who will regulate Vermont sports betting. It’s difficult to speculate because the process is just beginning. The state has very little legislative history of trying to legalize gambling, let alone sports wagering and supports so few legal options. There are clues to be had, though, when examining other states. Both Tennessee and neighboring New Hampshire, which also have no casinos and scant gambling, opted to run legal sports betting through their state lotteries.
New Hampshire implemented an exclusive state sports betting license with DraftKings, while Tennessee — a state with a much greater population and several highly supported pro and college teams — has multiple online sportsbooks.
It would make a lot of sense for Vermont to implement a model similar to New Hampshire. Keep in mind that competition is better for bettors and the lottery system has traditionally not been the best route. But something familiar and nearby might appeal to Vermont as it takes steps toward legalizing sports betting. The Vermont Lottery Commission, therefore, makes the most sense.
How old do I have to be to bet on sports in Vermont?
Keeping in mind that there is no legal sports betting in Vermont, the state would most likely follow the norm and set an age requirement of 21 or older to bet on sports. Most states to legalize sports betting thus far have implemented such an age requirement. A few, including neighboring New Hampshire, require bettors to be 18 or older. Since you need only be 18 or older to play the lottery or bet on horses in Vermont, the state could go that route, too.
Where will I be able to make legal sports bets in Vermont?
Likely nowhere. There are no physical or online casinos in Vermont. In fact, there is little legal gambling in Vermont of any kind. Additionally, there are no racetracks and no off-track betting facilities. Retail sportsbooks would have to be built from the ground up, which doesn’t seem like something that would happen with such a small population, and where 80% of the land is covered by trees.
Vermont seems perfect for the type of mobile/online sports betting market that accounts for as much as 95% of the wagering in many successful states. Betting on your phone, on your couch or wherever you happen to be within state lines, seems like a logical way to go.
Online sportsbooks coming to Vermont
Sports betting is not legal in Vermont. But should it become legal, several major brands would figure to want to add the state to their portfolio. This, of course, would depend on the licensing and tax structures that Vermont would enact. If Vermont goes the way of New Hampshire, it would be one app via the lottery. If Vermont chooses a more open market, there are multiple brands that will want a piece of even as small a pie as VT.
As mentioned, a proposed bill would allow for six online sportsbooks. Here are four of the most likely options:
- DraftKings Sportsbook: One of the most recognizable names in US sports betting and the sole sports betting provider in New Hampshire. It would be interesting to see if DraftKings, which is based in Boston, would attempt to solidify its New England base.
- FanDuel Sportsbook: Another market leader, FanDuel wasn’t thrilled with its rival’s acquisition of New Hampshire, even given its diminutive population size. If Vermont were to copy and paste the New Hampshire model, how hard would FanDuel go for exclusivity?
- BetMGM Sportsbook: A highly visible national company spreading across the country. And MGM is the official casino partner of the Boston Red Sox. BetMGM’s reach is far and wide, and Vermont would be another star to add to its belt.
- Caesars Sportsbook: The brand added decades of experience to its portfolio thanks to a merger with William Hill’s US operations. But the brand itself is a well-known one in the Northeast with multiple casinos.
Popular sports to bet on
At the moment, you cannot legally bet on anything in Vermont, but the state is a hotbed of Boston fandom and also is ardent in its support of University of Vermont athletics.
MLB – Boston Red Sox
Fans of baseball betting will likely be initially drawn to the Sox, who dominate the New England area. If Vermont does end up with a mobile market, live betting is made for baseball because of the pace.
NFL – New England Patriots
NFL betting rules the roost nationally, and Vermont would figure to be no exception, especially if the Patriots return to form.
NHL – Boston Bruins
Many knowledgeable hockey fans abound in this neck of the very extensive woods, meaning NHL betting would likely be of keen interest.
NBA – Boston Celtics
It’s not Larry, Robert and Kevin anymore, but the prospect of betting on basketball should excite the locals.
NCAA – Vermont Catamounts
Several states have disallowed betting on in-state college teams, and several others, like New Jersey and Illinois, are reversing position and trying to legalize it after the fact. The locals love their Catamounts but we’ll have to wait and see what rules are applied if and when Vermont sports betting becomes legal. A Vermont sports betting bill submitted in 2021 would have disallowed betting on Vermont college teams.
Betting on Vermont sports teams
Here are a few common sports betting terms Vermonters will soon know (if they don’t already) when betting comes to their state.
- Moneylines: A bet on which team will win, with the payouts determined by each team’s odds.
- Point spreads: The sportsbook estimates the margin of victory, and bettors decide if the favorite will exceed that figure or if the underdog will prevent that from happening.
- Totals: The book predicts the total score, and bettors wager whether the actual total will be over or under that estimate.
- Futures: Rather than predicting the outcome of a single game, bettors wager on the outcome of a season or an award, such as MVP. Players can get nice payouts by being right very early, but their money stays tied up a long time.
What legal sports betting can do for Vermont
In 2020, the Vermont Senate Committee on Economic Development approved S 59 to create a sports betting committee, but it never formed.
The premise for the study estimated that Vermont could generate $1.1 million to $4.2 million in yearly tax revenue from sports betting. The committee would have consisted of the state attorney general; the commissioner of liquor and lottery; the commissioner of taxes; the secretary of state; the secretary of commerce and community development; two current members of the Senate, to be appointed by the Committee on Committees; and two current members of the House, to be appointed by the speaker of the House.
When that eventually fizzled, Scott signed H 313 to perform basically the same task in 2021. It remains to be seen if that body will meet once the legislative session ends. Scott theorized in his 2022 budget that legal sports betting could bring $2.5 million in tax benefits to the state.