Renewed push

Vermont lawmakers ready to submit new sports betting legalization proposal before the House this summer

Vermont State House in Montpelier.
Reading time 1:37 min

While sports betting is currently illegal in the state of Vermont, a new push is seeking to make that change. A group of lawmakers is readying a proposal to turn the activity legal in the state after projections showed that the operation of sports gaming could collect millions in potential revenue. Although past proposals were unsuccessful, legislators are seeking to establish an attractive fee and tax structure, as well as a proper regulatory framework, to present before the Statehouse this summer.

"Different models yield different favorability with the industry, with my colleagues, and with the public," said Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, D-Chittenden County, as reported by WCAX3. The push comes after a recent 180-page report from the Legislature’s nonpartisan Joint Fiscal Office, which shows just how much revenue the state could rake in: it could be anywhere from $2 million to $10 million.

The issue of sports betting legalization has been long debated at the State House for a number of years now. However, the measure has not been picked up by the House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs so far.

Representative Tom Stevens D-Waterbury, says issues surrounding problem gambling are less visible than problems with drinking. He also says that he wants to make sure all of the known facts and outcomes are out there and that people understand gambling is addictive. "This is a social proposition that we have to take very seriously," Stevens said, as reported by WCAX3.

Because the activity is illegal in the state, Vermonters have, for years now, been traveling across state lines to place their bets or wagering through offshore platforms. However, if a measure passes, the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery would be able to regulate the industry and put age limits, license operators, and set limits on the amounts and numbers of bets.

"Right now, we are investigating an illegal gambling operation in Vermont where the players have lost tens of thousands of dollars. That wouldn’t happen in a regulated sports betting market," said Wendy Knight, the department’s commissioner.

As of late, at least 32 states, including New York and Hampshire have approved sports betting in the country. According to Sen. Michael Sirotkin, D-Chittenden County, the outgoing chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, some lawmakers in the House have been reluctant to deal with so-called vices. "Whether it’s alcohol or marijuana or gambling, some people are more skittish than others," he said.

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