New England is seeing a recent influx of sports wagering legislation come forth early in 2021. We can now add Vermont to the list. Unfortunately, Vermont has tried many times during previous Senate proposals that included specific studies of the sports betting industry. While multiple bills failed to gain traction last year, signs are more encouraging beginning this month
Vermont is now trying to get a bill through 2021. S. 77 was filed February 11 in hopes of 2021 being the year Vermont allows legislators to act, paving the way for sports wagering to begin. Senator Dick Sears has proposed Senate Bill 77, which if passed would authorize Vermont sports betting through the lottery, as well as six mobile operators.
The bill is co-sponsored with Vermont Senators Michael Sirotkin, Christopher Pearson, and Richard Westman. At this juncture, the bill is receiving co-sponsorship from both Democrats and Republicans, which would allow for an easier majority vote in the 30 seat Senate. The next step would be a hearing in the Senate Committee on Economic Development and General Affairs.
The new 15-page bill does not have many conclusive details and suggests the VT Depart of Liquor and Lotteries would provide more specifics later. It does include a passage that those only over 18 could be allowed to legally wager and all betting on college events for state universities would not be permitted. Important figures including tax rates and licensing fees are also not included within the bill.
Other rules through S.77 include that state lottery retailers could offer sports wagering with all bets being made available through the Vermont Lottery. The Department of Liquor and Lotteries will be named regulator of the sports wagering market to establish further rules and regulations. A maximum of six mobile sportsbook applications would be made available in addition to the Lottery outlets for wagering in the state.
In sponsoring the bill, Sears wrote in an op-ed:
A tri-partisan bill I have re-introduced with Senator Michael Sirotkin, Senator Chris Pearson and Senator Rich Westman will generate an estimated $3 million in tax revenue. This revenue can fund vital services and programs for Vermonters.
The motivation for Vermont to take swifter action now is clear. Nearby New England states have been making significant progress involving sports wagering legislation with bordering Massachusetts and New Hampshire getting much closer for 2021 passage. New York may have the most effect, as Governor Cuomo has reversed his stance for online wagering and approval is likely pending.
Governor Phil Scott of Vermont has estimated $2.5 million in annual revenue to be produced from legal sports betting included within his 2022 VT fiscal budget proposal.
The Vermont Legislature adjourns for the year on May 28. The most positive aspect may be sports wagering included within Gov. Scott’s budget proposal along with traction and support involving the S.77 bill. A reasonable forecast would be Vermont sports wagering to arrive sometime in 2022.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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