It’s been noted before that sports betting legislation in Vermont seems inevitable, and that it is happening at a snail’s pace, but recent information filtering out of the Green Mountain state seems to suggest that we could have definitive movement on the issue in 2023. The state legislature, which will not sit again in 2022, is expected to find sports betting ordnance in its in-tray when it returns in the New Year – and it seems highly likely that the bill will find an easy passage through the state chambers.
Vermont is the only present holdout among New England states when it comes to sports wagering. Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire have already opened their sports betting platforms, while Massachusetts has passed legislation to do so and is working on making the practicalities happen before the end of the NFL season. And it was after a recent meeting of the Vermont Sports Betting Study Committee (VSBSC), addressed by representatives from the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, that signs of progress in the VSBSC’s work emerged.
The Committee seems now to be favoring a mobile-only mode of betting, which would mean no retail locations or licenses in the state. This would be an initial step, emphasized chair Wendy Knight, who went on to specify that on the basis of any initial success of mobile betting, there could certainly be a time in the future when the committee would look at expanding the provision of sports betting.
Vermont is a famously quiet state, with the second-smallest population out of all fifty states, and it has gained a reputation as a place where things happen slowly. The pace of progress is expected to be cautious there, but with green lights from most quarters responsible for implementing legislation, it does now seem possible that a bill could be brought forward in the early stages of 2023, with solid recommendations from the committee. It may well be that this move has come as a result of the state’s legislators seeing the revenue New Hampshire – a nearby, similarly bucolic state – has managed to take from legal beting there.
It’s also true to say that Vermont has not had the same push factors as many of the states that have already legalized sports betting. States such as New York and New Jersey, which have plenty of pro sports teams, have had a natural constituency for betting to take root and grow. Other states such as Kansas and Ohio, which overcame substantial opposition on the ground to implement betting bills, are also home to numerous teams in the major leagues. Vermont, whose most senior sports team is the collegiate summer-league baseball club Vermont Lake Monsters, hasn’t had that imperative, but now may be embracing sports betting anyway in its own time.
If sports betting is legalized early in 2023, then the process of implementation should not be as slow and as complicated as it has been in other states, given that Vermont is a considerably smaller market and would only be implemented on a limited initial basis.