Vermont Senate committee approves sports betting bill following amendments

Vermont Rep. Matthew Birong

The US state of Vermont prohibits casino gambling and has no commercial or tribal gambling-friendly properties, but that could change as lawmakers are seriously considering a gaming expansion measure.

House Bill 127 (HB 127), which has specifically been designed to legalize online sportsbooks across the Green Mountain State, is heading to the state Senate after a committee in the upper chamber of the state legislature approved it.

The bill in question was introduced in late January by Vermont Rep. Matthew Birong (a Democrat from Addison 3) in partnership with six other Democratic and three Republican lawmakers. As mentioned above, it aims to grant legal status to online sportsbooks in the state. The Vermont House of Representatives passed the bill by a simple voice vote last month, marking the first time in the state’s history when a sports betting measure successfully cleared a chamber of the Vermont Legislature.

It is worth-mentioning here that several critical changes were made to the HB 127 by the chamber’s Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs Committee. The list of key changes includes implementing an annual fee that online sportsbooks would have to pay.

The latest version of bill suggests the following annual rate structure: $412,500 per operator for two operators, $366,666 for three operators, $343,750 for four operators, $330,000 for five operators, $320,833 for six operators.

After making the aforementioned amendments to the bill, the Senate Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs Committee voted 4-1, allowing the measure to move forward.

When asked for a COMMENT, Liquor & Lottery Commissioner Wendy Knight said, “This will be a success if you pass this. We will put those procedures in place; we will maximize the revenue to the state.”
Following the committee’s approval, the measure is now moving to the full Senate floor for consideration. A date for debate on the bill is yet to be scheduled.

If approved and signed into a law, the bill would authorize up to half a dozen online sportsbook platforms in the state, with at least two operators required for the potentially lucrative gambling-friendly market to start. It would allow betting on professional as well as college sports. However, college sports involving state-based schools would remain prohibited irrespective of where the game is played. The state is expected to reap economic benefits as the new measure would require regulated sportsbooks to share 20 per cent of their gross gaming revenues with the state exchequer.

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