The second-smallest state by population appears poised to finally join its regional peers and legalize sports betting. On Wednesday, the Vermont Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee amended and moved forward H127, which would allow for digital wagering only.
The next stop is the Finance Committee, and then on to the Senate floor. The Economic, Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee voted 4-1 to advance the bill. The bill passed the House March 24 by a voice vote.
Kentucky is the only state so far this year to legalize sports betting, and Vermont joins Missouri and North Carolina as states where mobile wagering has passed one chamber and is awaiting approval in a second. As Missouri lawmakers struggle with how to move forward after tabling discussion earlier this month following an attempted filibuster and the voting down of a video lottery terminal amendment, legislators in both North Carolina and Vermont appear poised to move forward.
Vermont’s legislature adjourns May 19.
In committee, Vermont senators renewed their commitment to responsible and problem gambling by banning sportsbooks from advertising at events where most attendees would be under the age of 21, and requiring that 5% of tax revenue be directed to a newly created wagering problem gambling fund. The amended bill also stakes the Department of Mental Health with $250,000 in FY 2024 and $500,000 in FY 2025 to “establish and administer a problem gambling program.”
Sportsbooks would also be required to submit plans for how they would prevent advertising from reaching underage residents and how they will advertise responsible gambling programs.
VT would be third with digital-only wagering
The committee also amended the annual licensing fee, which is a sliding scale based on how many operators are active in the state. The bill would allow for a maximum of six platforms — and no retail sportsbooks.
If only two platforms are live, each would pay a $412,500 annual license fee, and that fee drops to $320,833 each if six platforms are live. The House version of the bill set the annual fee at $275,000.
The bill doesn’t include a specific tax rate but does say that the Department of Liquor and Lottery would enter into a revenue-sharing model with any operators. The minimum revenue share would be 20% of adjusted gross revenue. Several lottery-regulated legal wagering states also have revenue-share models.
Should Vermont lawmakers approve the bill, the state would become the third behind Tennessee and Wyoming to legalize digital-only wagering.
Vermont would also become the final New England state to legalize. The first in the region was Rhode Island, which legalized in June 2018, just a month after the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Action. Massachusetts, which legalized in August 2022, was the most recent. Wagering is live in four of the six New England states. Betting is legal in Maine, but the Gambling Control Unit is still developing a regulatory framework.