Massachusetts residents already have New Hampshire and Rhode Island as options for placing legal wagers on sporting events. Vermont sports betting could be an option later this year, as well.
It’s still very early in the legislative process in the Green Mountain State. The fact that there is any movement toward legalization there could be enough to motivate legislators in Boston, however.
What is going on with Vermont sports betting?
Two members of the Vermont Senate recently filed a bill to expand gambling in their state. The bill focuses on legal sports wagering.
As the only form of legal gambling currently ongoing there is the state lottery, the betting would take place entirely online. The bill would also reform current legislation on daily fantasy sports games.
Currently, DFS operators pay an annual fee of $5,000 for licensure in Vermont. The bill would repeal that fee and instead impose a 10% privilege tax.
The same 10% tax would apply to sportsbooks. The Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery would be the governing body for both activities.
The bill has no stated cap on how many sportsbook operators could receive licenses. That could set it apart from neighboring New Hampshire, where DraftKings currently enjoys a state-protected monopoly.
Even New Hampshire has a more favorable landscape than Massachusetts right now, however. It doesn’t look like the situation in Boston will change any time soon, either.
Why Vermont’s actions may have no effect on the Bay State
Massachusetts residents who live close to the New Hampshire border have been able to cross over and place legal bets for a month now. Despite that, there is no movement on the topic of sports betting legalization in Boston.
While it may be months before Vermont enacts legislation and authorizes sportsbooks to start accepting wagers, the fact that another of Massachusetts’ neighbors could pull tax dollars from Bay State residents should supply some motivation. There is reason to doubt that, however.
If the response to New Hampshire going legal and live was silence, there’s little hope that Vermont doing the same thing will prompt any different reaction. The fact remains that the legislators in Boston simply don’t see gambling expansion as a high priority.
Many in the state don’t share that sentiment. That includes an executive with one of Massachusetts’ three commercial casinos.
Support for legalization outside of the state Legislature
One important voice in Boston agrees with Mathis. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has been outspoken about his desire to see legal sports betting in the Bay State, even filing a bill with the state Legislature toward that end.
There has been very little activity on Baker’s bill. Because of that, Vermont legislators likely see an opportunity.
Vermont’s legal sportsbooks could pull action from not only its citizens but New Yorkers and residents of Massachusetts, as well. While it’s too early to say that legalization is inevitable, it could be too late for Massachusetts to keep Vermont from collecting tax dollars from its citizens if that does happen soon.