Vermont Moves Forward in Process to Investigate Legal Sports Betting

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The Vermont Senate has moved one step closer in its decision to legalize sports betting by unanimously approving a committee to study how the state could in fact regulate betting on sports and how to properly tax it.

While Vermont is still a long ways away from approving legalized sports betting, this is certainly a step forward in the process and shows that it remains a hot topic issue especially following the health crisis.

Slow Progress Since January

Legalized Vermont sports betting and keno were first proposed back in January by Gov. Phil Scott during his budget address. While he was very much in favor of this movement, the proposal was met with a wide range of reactions among the various lawmakers in the state.

At the time, Governor Scott made it a point to highlight how legalized sports betting could help the state in terms of tax revenue, but that didn’t erase the worries some officials had about it contributing to addiction problems.

This bill, S59, was able to pass in a second examination by the Senate. From there, it will get a final vote then be sent to the House. The problem is that it might not be a high priority before the closing of the state’s legislation session, which takes places in just a couple of weeks.

Regardless of how lawmakers may feel about the matter, some argue sports betting is already happening within the state. This betting is taking place under unregulated environments, which means the state isn’t getting any sort of profit from it. Vermont leaders are wondering where the money is going.

According to Senator Michael Sirotkin, D-Chittenden, the sports wagers and tax revenue are taking place in Vermont’s neighbors and north of the border in Canada. Senator Sirotkin, who is the driving force behind this bill, commented further on what’s needed to legalize sports betting in Vermont:

 “If we want to move sports betting to a legalized, regulated and tax approach, we need more information about the real world track record of this activity and our own analysis of our different ways to structure a tax and regulated system.”

Sirotkin has gone on to estimate that if sports betting is made legal it could bring in up to $10 million dollars per year for Vermont in tax revenue.

Resistance Is Holding Strong

Despite the potential for an infusion of cash in the form of tax revenue, the resistance is holding strong and reaffirming that legalized sports betting is not the way to go.

Part of that resistance, or at least part of a group that has questions and reservations is Senator Ruth Hardy, D-Addison, who has addressed the fact that the study committee that has been set up doesn’t contain any specialists in addiction.

She would also question whether or not college and non-professional events would be included in legalized sports betting. Sirotkin responded to Senator Hardy by stating that this question is premature as the committee would need more time to actually investigate the matter.

Senator Dick Sears, D-Bennington, has also thrown his hat in the ring sharing his thoughts and expectations. He believes it’s time for Vermont to fully understand what legalizing sports betting entails and hopes that the House doesn’t further delay this process:

“The quicker we get some kind of consensus regarding the study committee and provide some direction the better off we’ll be.”

As Sears went on to point out, the tax revenue could go towards making up for some of the financial shortfalls the state is currently suffering from.

Instead, nearby states like New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Delaware are all capitalizing on the revenue generated from Vermont residents who are crossing state borders to place legal wagers on professional and collegiate sports.

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...

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