While Vermont sports betting apps are not yet available, the state regulator is working to get them online before the NFL playoffs.
Gov. Phil Scott put the official stamp on the VT sports betting law Wednesday, setting up the Department of Liquor and Lottery for a busy next six months bringing up to six online sportsbooks to the state.
DLL Commissioner Wendy Knight hopes to launch online betting by January, which, last year, was the highest month of betting activity in Nevada and New Jersey. While this is Vermont’s first foray with gambling companies, the DLL is already prepping for the aggressive launch timeline, which would be one of the fastest starts ever.
Vermont sports betting different from most states
Instead of asking operators to apply for a license like most states do, Vermont is set to enter revenue-sharing agreements with its online sportsbooks, much like its neighbor New Hampshire does with DraftKings. Vermont’s law allows for between two and six operators.
Vermont also joins Virginia and Tennessee as the only states without casinos to legalize sports betting. Much of Tennessee’s post-legalization launch prep centered around determining what body would regulate betting. Launch took the Volunteer State around 17 months.
“We’re definitely building from scratch, but we also have the benefit of relying on 37 other states with regulated sports betting. Ironically we benefit from being one of the last ones [to legalize sports betting],” Knight said. “We are in constant contact with our other partners and other states that are doing online sports betting, and we have been for months to get a sense of what’s working and what’s not working.”
Steps toward January launch in VT
Knight expects to review the first proposed enhanced procedures during the regulator’s next meeting on July 12.
“We should be ready to send requests for proposal out in mid-July, then there will be a period for bidders to review and send in bids,” she added.
Once the DLL evaluates the bids operators submit, the agency will need to negotiate and finalize contracts by December if it wants to meet the January launch timeline.
In the meantime, Knight said the DLL is working on a public awareness campaign to ensure Vermonters know there is no place to legally bet yet.
Quicker rule-making process
Knight was a constant in the legislative process, routinely testifying at bill hearings and informing lawmakers of the structure the DLL would need to avoid issues that complicated other state launches. Knight also served on the sports betting study committee that produced the blueprint for the recently passed bill.
“We’ve been working on this for months to be ready when the bill passed. We knew it was going to pass so we started to do some background work early on,” Knight said.
Knight said allowing the DLL to promulgate through “enhanced procedures” instead of traditional agency rule-making will be key in getting legal betting options out to Vermonters as fast as possible.
“To get regulations passed, it’s a much more arduous rulemaking process, whereas, with enhanced procedures, you propose the procedures, have two public hearings over a 30-day period, then the board can adopt them.”