Vermont tries sports betting legislation again

Despite the failure of multiple bills attempting to legalize sports betting in the past, the state of Vermont is trying again in 2021.

A new Senate bill, S77 was introduced last week sponsored by Senator Dick Sears, and co-sponsored by Senators Michael Sirotkin, Christopher Pearson and Richard Westman. The bill would legalize sports betting under the authority of the Department of Liquor and Lotteries, and allow up to six online sportsbook to operate in the state.

Vermont tries sports betting again in 2021?

Sears and Sirotkin sponsored a bill last year to bring mobile-only betting to Vermont but it never reached a committee hearing. Sirotkin was also a sponsor of a bill to create a sports betting studying committee in the state but it failed to receive a House committee hearing after passing through the Senate.

Bill S77 is 15 pages long, but surprisingly vague on concrete details on how sports betting would be operated, regulated and taxed in the state. The bill would hand over the ironing out of the finer points to the Department of Liquor and Lotteries.

Some of what the bill does mention includes allowing betting in the state at Vermont Lottery retailers for anyone 18 years of age or older. What type of bets would be allowed would be left to the Department of Liquor and Lotteries to decide.

The bill would cap the number of online sportsbooks in the state at six. There is no minimum amount listed in the bill and no mention on how online sports betting licenses would be obtained. Also missing from the bill is how much it would cost operators to apply for and renew their sports betting license and how much tax would be collected from their revenues.

Sen. Sears previously estimated $3 million in annual tax revenue from sports betting, but those kind of numbers and estimates were also left out of the bill.

One prohibition included in the bill is a ban on betting on Vermont colleges and any college event that takes place in Vermont. However, the ban would not include betting on college tournaments that include Vermont colleges, nor would it include part of events that take place in the state.

For example, if a round of March Madness games were played in Vermont, bettors in the state would not be prohibited from betting on the tournament.

The next step for S77 would be a hearing in the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs. No hearing has been scheduled yet.