The Vermont State House of Representatives has passed a bill that would legalize both online and retail sportsbooks in the state. If Gov. Phil Scott affixes his signature, it would make Vermont the 38th state to make sports betting legal.
It could also mean an end to across-the-border betting by Vermonters in Massachusetts.
Vermont bettors hopping in their cars to bet with Massachusetts online sportsbook apps obviously don’t account for a significant chunk of the MA sports betting industry. However, the impact is not nothing.
No more Vermont residents betting in MA?
Massachusetts law permits anyone to wager on sports in MA as long as they are 21 years of age or older and physically located within state lines. That means that you do no have to be a Massachusetts resident to bet on sports in the Commonwealth.
For some sports fans in southern Vermont, that stipulation has allowed them to travel into Massachusetts to place wagers since the state launched its market in January (for retail) and March (for online sports betting apps).
Last month, PlayMA reached out to GeoComply to find data on how many Vermont residents have attempted to use mobile Massachusetts sportsbooks. As of last month, GeoComply had identified more than 16,000 transactions from nearly 3,000 player accounts located in Vermont attempting to access the MA market. These players were not permitted to wager.
In addition, GeoComply found 3,441 bettors who crossed into Massachusetts territory to bet on sports from March 10 to April 9. Of those, 33 were from Vermont.
In total, nearly 187,000 accounts from neighboring states tried to access the legal Massachusetts market.
Vermont targeting early 2024 sports betting launch
Language in the Vermont sports betting bill lays out a timeline that requires a sports betting market to be launched in 2024. Some in the Vermont legislature believe it could be as early as January, in time for the NFL playoffs and 2024 Super Bowl.
The bill has passed in the Vermont House and was approved by the State Senate. If Scott signs the bill, it would permit as many as three commercial sports betting operators in Vermont. Top companies in the industry, including DraftKings, which is based in Boston, have expressed a desire to operate in Vermont.
According to the 2020 US Census, Vermont has a population about 10% of Massachusetts, at less than 650,000. The city of Boston has a larger population than the entire state of Vermont. Therefore, it seems unlikely that Vermont will be a large sports betting market, but it will bring legalized and regulated sports wagering to a new jurisdiction in New England.
The Vermont bill calls for bettors to be at least 21 or older to wager, the same as Massachusetts. It would also permit college sports betting, including events involving Vermont schools.
Since Massachusetts gaming regulations prohibit betting on collegiate events involving in-state schools, it’s possible some bettors in Massachusetts could choose to go north to wager on Boston College or other schools.
Last New England State to legalize sports betting
With Vermont on the precipice of legalizing sportsbooks and sports betting, it would become the final New England state to do so.
Neighboring New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire all have sports betting markets. You’d have to go all the way to South Carolina along the East Coast to find a state that hasn’t legalized sports betting.
Research by the Vermont Joint Fiscal Office projects between $4.6 and $10 million in taxes to the state from sports betting in the second year of legal activity. The bulk of that tax revenue would go to the state’s general fund.