A committee formed by the Vermont Legislature wants lawmakers to pursue legalizing sports betting through a state-controlled market. In a draft report completed Tuesday, the 2022 Sports Betting Study Committee unanimously found that the market would bring in state revenue, although the study failed to estimate how much money the activity could bring in.
A legal market would also provide consumers with a safer and more secure product, including funds for responsible gaming and to provide resources to help problem gamblers, the report said, as reported by Associated Press. It is now up to the Legislature, to convene early next month, to decide whether to legalize sports gaming in the Green Mountain State.
The committee was created by the Legislature earlier this year, as lawmakers felt sports betting is already widespread in Vermont, although on a non-regulated basis. Democratic House Speaker Jill Krowinski said on Tuesday that, while she hadn’t seen the report, lawmakers have previously had concerns about the lack of protections for potential gambling addicts.
“I need to see a lot more data and have a better understanding of what we can do to make it safe and have really strong guardrails,” she said. Since there is no regulated gaming in Vermont, such as casinos or racetracks, the committee recommended that the Department of Liquor and Lottery should be the state’s regulatory authority.
The renewed push comes as now more than 30 states allow sports betting, including neighboring New York and New Hampshire. The nine-member committee is also recommending that the market should be managed by a private operator, or operators, that would be chosen through a competitive bidding process.
Under the regulated market proposal, the Department of Liquor and Lottery would also have the Department of Mental Health administer problem gambling services, as well as study problem gambling. While the legislative committee said online sports wagering would be the best option for Vermont, the Lottery department would also be in charge of determining potential locations in which retail betting could be viable.
Legislators in Vermont have been pushing for sports betting legalization for years, but their efforts have failed thus far. In April 2022, a Senate committee considered a plan to legalize online sports wagering under state lottery authority, enabling six online sportsbooks. However, both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed over the bill without voting on it.