After sending a Vermont sports betting bill back for technical changes, the state Senate could hold a final vote early this week.
The VT sports betting bill (H. 127) is on the Senate agenda for Tuesday after, a favorable report from the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which received the bill after reading on the Senate floor just a few days before. It would authorize two to six online Vermont sports betting apps and already passed the House.
Gov. Phil Scott has indicated he will sign the bill should it reach his desk.
Senate tweaks fee structure
Under the Senate version, sportsbooks would pay an annual $550,000 license fee for at least the first three years of Vermont sports betting.
The committee previously considered allowing the Department of Liquor and Lottery to adjust fees based on how much regulating the industry ends up costing. After feedback from lobbyists and stakeholders, they opted to leave it in place for at least three years.
Should the Senate pass the bill with amendments, the House will have to come back and ratify those changes.
Penalties upped for illegal operators
A group of Senators will offer an amendment that increases penalties for illegal sportsbooks, on the Senate floor, according to the legislative agenda.
Under that amendment, the penalties for operating an illegal sportsbook will be as follows:
- Up to a $50,000 fine and or up to six months in prison for the first violation
- Up to a $150,000 fine and or up to a year in prison for a second violation
- Up to a $300,000 fine and or up to two years in prison
Vermont sports betting options, tax up in air
Despite the bill’s inky legislative path, major questions about the shape of the Vermont sports betting market remain.
The number of sports betting operators and the tax they would pay is still in question. That is because the bill directs the DLL to procure and negotiate revenue-sharing agreements with companies rather than directly tax them, a key recommendation from the legislature’s sports betting study findings in December.
Lawmakers have routinely indicated they expect either two or three operators throughout multiple legislative hearings, though the final number could be higher under the static-fee structure.