Final Northeastern state without regulated sportsbooks takes steps toward legalization
Vermont lawmakers discussed a sports betting legalization bill Thursday, taking the first step toward legalizing sportsbooks in the last state in the region without a regulated wagering option.
A House committee Thursday heard testimony about legalizing mobile sportsbooks in the state. Both the full House and Senate would have to pass legislation before it can become law, but Thursday’s hearing gave lawmakers a first glimpse into what legal sports betting would look like in Vermont.
If a bill is passed, Vermont could be the 36th state, plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico, to start taking bets. It is the last remaining state in the Northeast that hasn’t approved legal sports betting.
Vermont sports betting details
Vermont’s current sports betting proposal resembles the structure passed in neighboring New Hampshire.
All sportsbooks would be under the purview of the state lottery. Mobile sportsbook licenses would be awarded based on a competitive bidding process.
In New Hampshire, nearly a dozen mobile sportsbook bid for licenses, each submitting a tax rate. Boston, Massachusetts-based DraftKings agreed to a 51% rate, the highest of any legal market in the country, in exchange for a de facto monopoly and was awarded the state’s lone license.
It remains to be seen if DraftKings, or any other operator, would agree to such a deal in Vermont. The nation’s second-least populated state, Vermont may not attract many operator bids. Wyoming, the nation’s least populated state, only offers DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM even though the state has some of the nation’s lowest tax rates and no cap on the number of permitted sportsbooks.
Vermont is one of the few remaining states – and the only one in New England – without any commercial casinos or horse tracks.
Regional market overview
Legal Vermont sports betting would close the remaining piece of the region’s sports betting puzzle. The five other New England states are either taking sports bets or have passed bills to do so.
Rhode Island was the first state in the region to approve legal sports betting. It still has only one legal mobile sports betting option, Sportsbook RI.
Connecticut has three mobile sportsbooks: DraftKings, FanDuel and Rush Street Interactive’s PlaySugarHouse. Maine is set to have between one and four mobile sportsbooks, but it’s too early to see which, if any, national operators seek to enter the market.
Massachusetts is New England’s largest market by both population and number of operators. Eleven sportsbooks are set to launch in the state, with most expected to do so in March. Massachusetts’ first three retail books, at the state’s three casinos, opened Jan. 31.
New York, Vermont’s western neighbor, is the nation’s largest sports betting market by handle. US market share leaders FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars are all live in New York, along with BetRivers, PointsBet, Bally Bet, WynnBet and Resorts World Bet.
Further south, all Mid-Atlantic states have legal betting options. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia all have statewide mobile sports betting. Delaware was the first state outside Nevada to take a legal single-game bet but still only permits in-person betting.