Online sports betting could be coming to Vermont with new bill

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Vermont has become the latest in the flurry of states to introduce bills seeking to legalize VT online sports betting, with Bill H 127. The bill was submitted and read first time on the last day of January in the House, and has now been referred to the Committee on Government Operations and Military Affairs.

Currently, there is no legal forms of gambling in Vermont other than commercial lottery which is operated by the aforementioned Department of Liquor and Lottery. The move towards legal online gambling in Vermont is in line with several other states.

Given the low population of Vermont, the legalization is unlikely to garner as much attention  as other states such as OK, where legal online gaming in Oklahoma seems but a distant dream. With the recent sports betting defeats in California, online sports betting in CA isn’t going to happen any time soon and so Vermont legislators could potentially leap ahead of their significantly larger counterparts.

Who supported the VT bill?

The main sponsor of the bill was Rep. Matthew Birong, with the following additional sponsors:

  • Rep. Lucy Boyden
  • Rep. William Canfield
  • Rep. Carl Demrow
  • Rep. Caleb Elder
  • Rep. Lisa Hango
  • Rep. Michael Morgan
  • Rep. Logan Nicoll
  • Rep. Daniel Noyes
  • Rep. Heather Surprenant

The bill proposes to authorize the Department of Liquor and Lottery to ‘operate sports wagering through contracts with sports wagering operators.’ The Department of Liquor and Lottery would be responsible for everything, from establishing the regulations of sports wagering through to the bidding process, revenue sharing agreements and the responsible gaming standards.

Vermont also wishes to establish a Responsible Gaming Special Fund which will be used by the Department of Mental Health for services relating to problem gambling.

Which events would be ineligible for wagering?

Prohibited sports events for wagering would include the following:

  • Collegiate sports event in which one of the participants is a collegiate team of a college institution that is primarily located in Vermont
  • High school or collegiate sports event that takes place in Vermont
  • amateur or professional sports event where the participants are primarily under 18 years of age

What are the rules stipulated in Bill H 127?

Bill H 127 stipulates that the Department of Liquor and Lottery would be able to authorize a minimum of two, and a maximum of six sports betting operators to operate in Vermont through a mobile sports wagering platform. It also adds a stipulation that should only one suitor be found, a monopoly can also be established should the department deem it necessary.

Other notable rules include:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • Mobile wagers must be initiated and received within the State of Vermont
  • Wager limits for daily, weekly and monthly amounts consistent with best practices imn addressing problem gambling
  • A voluntary self-exclusion program for players
  • Security mechanisms to ensure the confidentiality of wagers and personal and financial information
  • Measures to ensure wagers are not placed by a prohibited sports bettor

There is several paragraphs looking at responsible gambling from the outset, which is clearly a big focus of the Vermont regulators and representatives. An operator would be required to pay an annual license fee of $275,000 to the Department. The proposed tax rate has not been revealed as of yet.