Five Leading Operators Apply for Vermont Sports Betting Licenses

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In June, Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott (R) signed the state’s sports betting bill, House Bill 127, which allows up to six online sportsbook licenses to be awarded. This week, Vermont disclosed that its Request for Proposal (RFP) from sports betting operators has received a total of five bids.

Major players such as DraftKings, BetMGM, Fanatics, FanDuel, and ESPN Bet have all applied for a license, and the law states that at least two must be awarded. The Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery will now evaluate the bids. It will carry out suitability investigations into each company, looking at their top executives and shareholders and assessing the regulatory conditions proposed by each mobile sportsbook platform in their RFP.

Operators Encouraged to Enhance Bids

Vermont’s sports betting regulations specify that the gross sports betting revenue should be taxed at a base rate of 20%. The licensing fee starts at $550,000 and is valid for at least three years. The minimum age for placing an online sports bet in Vermont is 21 years.

Beyond these prerequisites, the RFP encouraged operators to enhance their offerings in order to secure a license. The state’s lottery and liquor officials will use a point system, ranging from 0-1,000 points, to evaluate each bid.

Factors such as the percentage of gross income an operator proposes to share with the state will influence their score. Additionally, points will be allocated based on each sportsbook’s projected gross and adjusted sports wagering income forecasts.

However, most of the points will be based on the applicant’s track record in other states with legal sports betting. Their commitment to responsible gaming will also factor heavily into their score. Other criteria include the applicant’s technical abilities, regulatory safeguards, geolocation protocols, and customer protection measures.

The Vermont Lottery and Liquor Department is set to grant its inaugural online sports wagering licenses this fall, and the sites are expected to go live in January 2024.

Questions over ESPN Bet

Among the five applicants, four are likely to navigate the suitability review without any significant problems, given their established presence and thorough vetting in numerous other states. However, ESPN Bet may undergo a more rigorous review.

ESPN Bet is a collaboration between the Disney-owned ESPN and Penn Entertainment. Last month, Penn Entertainment ended its ownership of Barstool Sports and Barstool Sportsbook due to the operator’s links with Barstool’s owner, Dave Portnoy, which led to a number of regulatory issues.

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