Vermont Gov. Phil Scott Wednesday made his state the third this year to legalize sports betting when he signed H127, a digital sports betting bill that will allow up to six platforms in the Green Mountain State. Scott’s signature made it so that every New England state has legalized, and New Englanders will be able to wager from Connecticut to Maine once both Maine and Vermont launch betting.
In Vermont, when wagering goes live, those in the state will only be able to bet via digital platforms. The new law allows for a minimum of two and a maximum of six platforms that will be selected through a competitive bidding process. It’s likely that wagering will not begin until 2024.
Vermont is the third state, joining Tennessee and Wyoming, to legalize digital wagering only, and is the second smallest state in the nation, with a population of about 647,000 as of July 2022. Only Wyoming, with about 581,000 people, is smaller.
Maine lawmakers legalized on May 2, 2022, but the Gambling Control Unit is still in the process of promulgating rules. The process was slowed down last month when the department head was suspended after posting what were deemed “offensive” tweets.
The only other state to legalize mobile betting in 2023 is Kentucky, which did so on March 31.
Percent of revenue share still in question
From here, the Vermont Dept. of Liquor and Lottery will begin promulgating regulations and open the bidding process for potential operators.
The department will also be charged with setting the final revenue-share rate. As is the case in many states where wagering is run by the lottery, a revenue-share model will be employed rather than a tax. Lawmakers set the minimum revenue share at 20%, but the lottery could raise that. Operators generally consider a tax or revenue-share rate of 10% to be optimal, but most national operators are in states with higher cuts, including New York, which taxes operators at 51%.
Arkansas, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island all also tax or have revenue-share models at 50% or more, but major national operators chose to stay out of Arkansas because of that rate. In Delaware, only retail betting is offered; in New Hampshire, DraftKings agreed to the rate in exchange for having a monopoly; and in Rhode Island, there is only a single platform available, powered by William Hill in partnership with IGT. In all three states, sportsbooks are partnered with the state lottery. In Arkansas, Betly, BetSaracen, and SBTech all operate websites.
Due to the text of the law, Vermonters should have more than one platform to choose from, but depending on what the lottery is looking for and how the bid process is designed, they could end up with only two sportsbooks that agree to limited competition in exchange for a higher tax rate.