Vermont legalizes online sports betting

By SARAH MEARHOFF

VTDigger

Published: 06-14-2023 5:20 PM

Vermont joined more than half the states in legalizing online sports betting Wednesday as Gov. Phil Scott signed H.127 into law.

The Republican governor has long supported legalization, which had been stalled for years in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Now, after countless hours of legislative study and debate, the measure has become law.

“I first proposed Vermont legalize sports betting several years ago and I’m happy the Legislature has come to an agreement, as well,” Scott said in a written statement Wednesday afternoon. “We know many Vermonters already participate in the marketplace and bringing it above board provides important resources and consumer protections.”

The legislation permits up to six companies — potentially household names such as ​​DraftKings and FanDuel — to operate mobile sports betting platforms in Vermont. The program will be supervised by the state’s Department of Liquor and Lottery and is expected to go online in January 2024.

Proponents of legalization argued that, in the digital age, Vermonters are already gambling illegally in online circles — a black market of sorts that left them vulnerable to exploitation or scams.

Opponents, meanwhile, questioned whether the state should sanction a modern form of gambling that is potentially more addictive than traditional methods and certainly more appealing to young people, as witnesses testified to lawmakers this year.

In response, lawmakers included in H.127 a “limit” on platforms’ ability to advertise to Vermonters under 21 years-old, who, legally, are barred from sports wagering. Commissioner of Liquor and Lottery Wendy Knight told lawmakers that she is confident in her department’s ability to keep platforms’ advertising strategies in check.

Proponents of H.127 also argued that, so long as Vermonters were participating in rogue online markets, the state was missing out on potential revenue that a state-regulated program could provide.

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State fiscal analysts do not project earth-shattering revenues from a new program. They estimate the state would see roughly $2 million in fiscal year 2024, and eventually, approximately $10 million per year.