HB 127, a bill that would bring legalized sports betting to Vermont, passed through the state’s House of Representatives on Friday. The legislation went directly to a vote without discussion on the floor.
The passage marks the first time a sports betting bill in Vermont has passed out of either chamber. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 105, is working its way through various committees. The state’s legislative session concludes on May 19.
“It was a long time coming. A lot of work went into this over a few years, and it felt good to finally move the piece of legislation,” Rep. Matt Birong, HB 127’s sponsor, told Sports Handle.
Birong said he expects the Senate to thoughtfully consider his bill, noting that, historically, the Senate has been more supportive of legalized sports betting than the House.
Should HB 127 become law, the state’s Department of Liquor and Lottery would regulate sports wagering.
A minimum of two and a maximum of six mobile sportsbooks would be granted licenses via a competitive bidding process, although the bill includes language that could allow for just one mobile betting operator should not enough qualified applicants emerge during the competitive bidding process. The Department of Liquor and Lottery would enter into negotiated revenue-sharing agreements with operators.
Licenses would cost $275,000, and money generated from sports wagering would go to the state’s General Fund. At least $250,000 would be sent each year to the Responsible Gaming Special Fund.
Wagering on professional and college sports would be allowed, although bettors would not be allowed to bet on in-state college teams unless those teams are competing in a tournament. It’s an unusual college wagering rule that matches Massachusetts’ system.
The bill does not include any in-person retail wagering.
Neighboring states offer betting
Vermont’s neighboring states — Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York — all offer mobile sports betting. Every New England state other than Vermont has legal wagering, although Maine has yet to launch its sports betting market.
Massachusetts’ mobile market went live earlier this month, ahead of the start of March Madness. There are half a dozen online sports betting platforms currently available in Massachusetts: Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, FanDuel, and WynnBET.
New Hampshire’s mobile sports betting market includes just one operator, DraftKings, while New York customers have access to nine mobile sportsbooks. In addition to the major books available in Massachusetts (other than Barstool), New York customers can also wager through BetRivers, PointsBet, Bally Bet, and Resorts World Bet.