The Vermont Senate on Wednesday approved multiple amendments to a legal digital sports betting bill and moved it forward to third reading.
The heavily altered legislation, H 127, would allow for online wagering only, with a minimum of two platforms and a maximum of six. The amendments, which came from various committees in both the House and the Senate, deal with advertising rules, fees, and taxing winnings.
The Senate, which adjourned Wednesday afternoon before considering H 127 on third reading, will reconvene Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.
If the Senate sends the bill to Gov. Phil Scott and he signs it, Vermont would become the final New England state to legalize wagering and the third in the nation to legalize only online sports betting. Tennessee was the first to do that in 2019, followed by Wyoming in 2021.
Vermont lawmakers have been discussing and studying the issue of sports betting for several sessions, and this was the first in which a bill made it to either chamber floor. In both chambers, lawmakers sought to further strengthen advertising and marketing rules to protect vulnerable parties.
Strict ad regs, messy college betting rules
Among the amendments to H 127 is a requirement that mobile sportsbooks get advertising plans approved by the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery as part of the licensing process. Another amendment would ban sports betting advertisements on products sold or marketed to those under the age of 21.
“Vermont has been debating the legalization of sports wagering for years,” problem and responsible gambling advocate Brianne Doura-Schawohl told Sports Handle. “They have done their due diligence in studying and analyzing what they feel is best for the state. In its current format, the bill outlines some of the strongest funding provisions for problem gambling in the U.S., and ample customer protections.”
The legislation hits many of the notes that have become standard across the country: setting the legal age at 21, clamping down on advertising, and allowing for betting on most college and professional sports. The bill bans betting on Vermont college teams, but does allow for wagering on tournaments in which Vermont teams are playing — regardless of whether those events take place in the state.
Rather than charge operators a tax, Vermont lawmakers decided to create a revenue-sharing model involving the state and operators. According to the text of the proposal, the minimum revenue share would be 20%, but the Department of Liquor and Lottery could negotiate a higher number with operators.
Lawmakers also altered the licensing fees, which are on a sliding scale that is dependent on how many entities are live in the state. The minimum fee would be $320,833 if six operators are active and the maximum would be $412,500 if just two operators are active.
The bill would become effective if and when Scott signs it, while the Vermont Senate is set to adjourn May 12.