For the first time since the US Supreme Court cleared the way for states beyond Nevada to legalize sports betting, a Vermont chamber will vote on sports betting legislation.
The VT sports betting bill will be heard in the House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon, bill sponsor Rep. Matthew Birong told LSR.
Vermont flirted with sports betting in the past, but quickly found itself as the only New England state yet to legalize the industry, opting instead to conduct multiple studies around best marketplace practices. Though with Gov. Phil Scott‘s support and little opposition in the legislature thus far, 2023 could finally be the year for Vermont sports betting.
Minor tweaks to Vermont sports betting structure
The bill completed its third and final House committee stop this week after committees on Appropriations and Government and Military Affairs rallied back and forth a series of technical amendments.
The legislation borrows mostly from a legislative study completed in December, which recommended between two to six sports betting apps, to be determined via a competitive bidding process, that would enter revenue-sharing agreements with the state.
Regulator gets more decision-making power
As recently amended, the bill would give the Department of Liquor and Lottery authority to negotiate those rates with potential operators and license to impose caps on advertising spending and regulations prohibiting marketing towards minors. Previously those would have been determined by the legislature.
DLL Commissioner Wendy Knight explained why she asked for those changes at an Appropriations hearing earlier this week.
“Our goal is to structure delegated authority to allow the agency to quickly adapt to the market,” she said, adding that the department will “cooperatively” develop advertising plans with operators as they bid.
Other changes to the bill
Lawmakers also added a few more protection clauses for the DLL to implement on its own terms:
- Ability to have a joint bank account banned from sportsbook depositing
- DLL can reevaluate or revoke a contract if an operator violates rules
- Agency may impose penalties against unlicensed operators
VT sports betting tax projections subject to change
Knight addressed Gov. Scott’s annual budget for FY2023, which included $2.6 million from legalized Vermont sports betting.
“Budget projections came from initial JFO (Joint-Fiscal Office) projections based on many ops and a higher tax rate, so those higher estimates were dependent on many operators like 18 or 20. I don’t think Vermont can handle that many operators,” Knight said.