New England’s last sports betting holdout state is making steady progress, as a Vermont sports betting bill received another legislative approval Wednesday.
The House Committee on Ways and Means voted 11-1 with no abstentions to advance the VT sports betting bill (H. 127) to its third and final House committee.
The other five New England states already legalized sports betting. After Massachusetts joined the fray earlier this month, four are now live with sports betting apps.
Vermont sports betting heads for third committee
Out of the 24 lawmakers to vote so far, just four have opposed the Vermont sports betting bill. It is the first time in three years a sports betting bill has progressed this far in the state legislature.
“I don’t care for it, but I’ll vote for the bill,” Rep. James Masland said at the Wednesday hearing. He is one of several lawmakers who lamented the inevitability of sports betting, which is now legal in 36 states.
The legislation would legalize up to six sports betting apps, one of several recommendations from a series of state-sanctioned studies on the industry. While there is no current tax projection, Gov. Phil Scott‘s annual budget includes $2.6 million of sports betting tax revenue.
Protections, ad limits and guidelines
Ways and Means members amended the bill since its last hearing, though most of it happened behind closed doors. There is currently no amended version of the bill publicly available, but lawmakers explained the changes as tightening language around advertising limits and consumer protections.
The most significant discussion revolved around adding more guidelines for contractual negotiations between license applicants and the state. Under the bill, the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery would work with potential operators to set a tax rate or revenue-sharing system, details that still need to be hashed out, according to officials.
“They [the changes] all seem very sensible. We have to put a little bit of more thought into the revenue piece, but not anything earth-shattering,” said Charles Martin, government affairs director with the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery.
Vermont’s legislative session runs through May 19.