The committee studying the idea of sports betting in Vermont is putting meat on the bones of its preferred system for legal wagering in the state.
Vermont’s Sports Betting Study Committee met again on Tuesday to continue its work and wound up settling on some recommendations to lawmakers.
One was that the New England state should have a revenue-share model that is set through a competitive bidding process and that entitles Vermont to at least 20% of online sports betting receipts by law. The other is that there should be another legal minimum of two online sportsbook operators in the state and a maximum of six.
“In a prior meeting, the committee had already determined to recommend a state control model with contracts awarded through a competitive bid process,” committee chair Wendy Knight noted in an email to Covers.
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The recommendations around a minimum tax rate and the number of operators come as the sports-betting industry is seeking both sufficient capacity and predictability from Vermont, which is the only New England state that has not yet authorized some form of sports betting. The committee was also warned about the need for a reasonable tax rate so that operators can offer odds in the state that are competitive with offshore and illegal operators.
Andrew Winchell, director of government affairs for FanDuel, noted sports betting is already happening all around Vermont: legally in other states that have authorized wagering and illegally via offshore sportsbooks.
Members of the Sports Betting Alliance, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, are keen on a competitive model for sports betting in Vermont that would establish a minimum number of operators and a statutory tax and fee structure.
“If the market conditions aren't appealing, then quality operators will simply not participate,” Winchell said. “The loss of quality operators means capturing less of the thriving illicit offshore market and less of the current activity across the border to neighboring states with legal and regulated sports betting.”
A study guide
Vermont’s sports betting committee still has more work in front of it before the state can finally enact some form of legal event wagering. Committee members, for example, have yet to settle on whether there should be a retail component to go with mobile betting.
“There's an awful lot of people that aren't comfortable, necessarily, with computers,” noted Sen. Dick Sears Jr. during Tuesday’s meeting.
Lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year that led to the creation of the committee. It is set to keep meeting weekly over the next month or so, with the exception of Election Day on November 8, a spokesperson for the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery told Covers.
A final meeting is tentatively scheduled for November 22 if need be, and the committee’s report to the legislature is due in December. Lawmakers will then use that report to guide them as they try to get a sports-betting bill passed in the legislative session scheduled to start in January.
This story has been updated from its original version to clarify that the recommended tax rate is a minimum of 20%.