Vermont Senate Preliminarily Approves Bill H127 to Legalize Sports Betting

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The state of Vermont is on the brink of legalizing sports betting following preliminary approval of Bill H127 by the state Senate. This bill aims to legalize online sports betting in Vermont and create a legal sports betting market that will be fully functioning by January 2024.

The legislation will allow up to six companies to operate sportsbooks in the state and create a dedicated fund to house revenue and fees collected by the state through its role as market overseer. A portion of the revenue will be set aside to create and provide resources for problem gambling.

The Senate’s reiteration of the bill maintained the state's right to 20% of the adjusted gross revenue generated by the sports betting operators annually, but there were alterations to the operating fees. Each operator would be subject to a $550,000 fee not more than every three years, rather than charges based on the number of operators in the market.

The regulation’s Joint Fiscal Office has projected that a modest revenue of about $2 million in the 2024 fiscal year could grow to between $4.5 – $10.5 million by 2025, evening out to an average of $10 million annually. Compared to neighboring Rhode Island's revenue, which has nearly double the population of Vermont and brings in nearly $50 million annually in gross revenue related to sports betting, Vermont's projection seems modest.

The legislation also includes provisions to limit advertising and targeted marketing to individuals under the age of 21 and prohibits advertising on college campuses. Fines for operating unlicensed sportsbooks have also been defined and doubled from the originally planned fees presented by the House.

Although some provisions in this legislation may seem stringent, on the whole, it seems like a solid base for sports betting and gambling regulation. Amendments and alterations will be required and will continue to be necessary depending on the industry's development.

An early emphasis on responsible gaming is also a very positive factor, providing the revenue to create a strong and efficient infrastructure to protect those at risk of problem gambling. This shows a good intent to make sports betting a legitimate and fair sector within the state of Vermont.

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