Vermont sports betting is inching closer to reality after a bill continued steady progress Wednesday toward becoming law.
The Vermont Senate ordered a third reading of the VT sports betting bill (H. 127), after agreeing to a series of amendments to the House-approved bill. A third reading could come as early as Thursday, after which House lawmakers must concur with any Senate changes before sending the bill to Gov. Phil Scott, who is expected to sign it.
If that happens, Vermonters should expect access to legal sports betting apps by January 2024, according to a timetable laid out in the amended bill
Senate amends license fee structure
The Senate’s second reading focused on a series of amendments out of three committees, the most notable of which changes how much operators pay for a license.
Under a Senate Appropriations amendment, operators would pay a $500,000 license fee in their first year, then an amount according to the following structure for at least the next three years:
- If two operators: $412,500 each
- If three operators: $366,666 each
- If four operators: $343,750 each
- If five operators: $330,000 each
- If six operators: $320,833 each
Half-dozen or less to pay at least a 20% tax
These fees are on top of the revenue operators will share with the state.
Under the bill, the Department of Liquor and Lottery must negotiate a revenue-sharing rate with between two and six online sportsbooks, no less than 20% of their adjusted gross gaming revenue. Lawmakers have indicated they expect two or three operators at launch.
Other approved amendments include:
- No cap on advertising, instead giving the DLL authority to negotiate a limit with each operator instead
- Technical changes to Vermont’s income tax on gambling
- Higher penalties for unlicensed operators
- Banning “risk free” or “free” from marketing promotional bets
Vermont sports betting rollout timeline
The amended bill lays out an expected timeline for the DLL to implement sports betting:
- July: DLL issues requests for proposals to potential operators
- August: Operators place bids for licenses
- September: DLL evaluates and selects bids
- October-December: DLL negotiates and executes contracts
“..hmmm, let’s see then, I guess it goes live in January,” said Sen. Alison Clarkson, reading the bill on the Senate floor Wednesday.
The bill also directs the DLL to review of the state’s compliance monitoring for daily fantasy sports, which it legalized in 2017. A report on how lawmakers might change the statute to address any potential issues is due Jan. 15, 2024.
Fiscal projections for VT sports betting
The Joint Fiscal Office projects Vermont will reap around $2 million in sports betting taxes in 2024, and between $4.6 million and $10.6 million in 2025. Problem gambling programs would receive $250,000 in FY2024 and $550,000 annually following, with the remaining sent to the general fund.
Vermont’s legislative session concludes May 9.