Vermont Sports-Betting Vote Caps Historic Five-Year U.S. Gaming Expansion

May 10, 2023
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Just days before the fifth anniversary of the landmark court decision that opened the door for a sports-betting boom in the U.S, Vermont legislators have put their state a governor’s signature away from becoming the 38th U.S. state to allow betting.

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Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 12:35 p.m. EST on May 10 with comment from Governor Phil Scott’s press secretary Jason Maulucci

Just days before the fifth anniversary of the landmark court decision that opened the door for a sports-betting boom in the U.S, Vermont legislators have put their state a governor’s signature away from becoming the 38th U.S. state to allow betting.

The state’s House of Representatives voted Tuesday (May 9) to concur with the Senate’s changes to House Bill 137, which will permit the state to license up to five mobile betting operators.

House Bill 137 will be sent to Republican Governor Phil Scott to be signed into law. Scott confirmed Wednesday (May 10) he will sign the amended bill, with sports betting launching by January 2024, according to a regulatory timeline laid out in the bill.

“Yes, the governor continues to believe that Vermont should join the vast majority of states and legalize sports betting,” press secretary Jason Maulucci told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

“We know that Vermonters are already participating in the market, and without bringing it above board, there is very little consumer protection in place,” Maulucci said. “The governor has proposed legalization for more than three years, and is grateful the Legislature has finally acted.”

The Senate approved an amended version of HB 127 on May 4 on a voice vote.

One of the amendments dealt with a sliding scale for operator licensing fees. The Department of Liquor and Lottery (DLL) can enter a minimum three-year contract with an operator at a cost of $550,000 for a license, but an operator can agree to a five-year contract at a cost of $110,000 annually for each of the five years.

Republican Representative Anne Donahue was the only member to express concern about any of the Senate changes, noting her “distress” over minor changes to advertising rules that significantly weaken the state’s attempt to protect those under 21 from seeing gambling marketing.

Donahue spoke for about five minutes on Tuesday before the House passed the amended bill by voice vote.

After Scott signs the bill, Vermont will become the second state to legalize betting in 2023, joining Kentucky, which approved legislation in late March to allow retail and mobile betting through state racetracks.

Vermont’s legislation does not include any permitted retail betting, joining Tennessee as the only states to offer mobile betting but not allow any land-based wagering.

The vote caps an unprecedented five-year run in U.S. gambling expansion, with more than 35 states plus the District of Columbia enacting legislation to permit sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018.

Additional reporting by Chris Sieroty

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