MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – 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 such a regulated market would bring in state revenue, although the report does not estimate how much money sports betting could bring in.
The 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.
It is now up to the Legislature, which will convene early next month, to decide whether to legalize sports betting in the state.
The committee was created by the Legislature earlier this year because lawmakers felt sports betting is already widespread in Vermont.
On Tuesday, Democratic House Speaker Jill Krowinski said she hadn’t seen the report, but lawmakers have previously had concerns about a 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.
In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed sports betting. After the decision, some states such as West Virginia and New Jersey were quick to legalize it and establish a regulatory structure while others like Massachusetts took several years to work it out.
Now more than 30 states allow sports betting, including neighboring New York and New Hampshire.
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.
One key recommendation from the nine-member committee is that it should be managed by a private operator or operators that would be chosen through a competitive bidding process.
The department would also have the Department of Mental Health administer problem gambling services as well as study problem gambling.
The committee, which met several times since April and held a public hearing, feels the best option for Vermont is to first open the sports wagering market with mobile and online wagering. The department would then determine if retail, or on-site betting, could be viable in certain locations.