A Vermont Senate meeting.

  • Senate Bill 59 would legalize a committee to study what a legal sports betting market could mean for Vermont.
  • The measure passed in its second Senate committee and has until June 30 to make it through both the Senate and the House.
  • A legal sports betting industry in Vermont could see an estimated $10 million in annual revenue.
  • The odds that Vermont Senate Bill 59 passes before it’s July implementation is looking likelier as session continues,

MONTPELIER, Vt. – The Senate Committee on Appropriations passed Senate Bill 59 on Friday.

The measure would create a committee to study the sports betting industry in Vermont. While Vermont has various pieces of sports betting legislation that would legalize the market in the General Assembly, this is the one bill that has received the most attention

Senate Bill 59 still has more channels within the Senate to pass before seeking House approval; all things that need to happen swiftly before the session adjourns at the end of the month.

Senate Bill 59

Senate Bill 59 first made its way into the General Assembly in January where it received its initial reading.

Fast forward to March and it passed its first committee hearing in the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs. Then the Coronavirus Pandemic hit and the bill became dormant until now where it passed in its second committee.

Should VT SB 59 make its way through the entire Vermont General Assembly and be given the green light at each turn, it would allow the state to head up a team beginning in July to study the multiple factors that go into the sports betting industry.

Lawmakers want to conduct an accurate study to understand the effects that a legal market like that of gambling on sports would have on the Green Mountain State before moving ahead with other forms of legislation.

The study would need to report its findings by December 15 before the committee would be disbanded on December 30.

Why Now?

There are mixed feelings toward any action on what looks to be a frivolous industry like sports betting when the outbreak of COVID-19 is an actual issue needing to be dealt with by the assembly.

But, Senate Bill 59 is getting its time on the floor based on the fact that the quicker Vermont receives the information they want on legal sports betting, the quicker they will be able to decide on legalizing and profiting with this market.

With its legalization being as early as the 2021 session, that would then help ease some of the financial losses caused by the Coronavirus that will be felt by the economy for years to come.

“If we want to move sports betting to a legalized, regulated and tax approach,” said Senator Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden), the bill’s primary sponsor. “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.”

Vermont is aware of its residents indulging in sports betting using outlets outside of the state to do so.

A legal Vermont sports betting market shows estimates of bringing in as much as $10 million in annual revenue but there is hesitation in legalizing an unknown industry.

Governor Phil Scott initially wanted to add sports betting and keno to the state budget but the idea did not sit well with those in charge of approving these markets.

This became the sole purpose behind lawmakers wanting to do extensive research with the creation and hopefully passage of VT SB 59 before moving further on legal sports betting in Vermont.

Now What?

Senate Bill 59 is not fully done within the Senate and it also needs to go before the House for approvals before making its way to Governor Scott’s desk.

There is little doubt that he wouldn’t sign off on it.

But time is of the essence as there are only two weeks left for the Vermont General Assembly to get a handle on passing VT SB 59.

“I would hope the House doesn’t put it on the wall and wait,” said Senator Dick Sears (D-Bennington). “The quicker we get some kind of consensus regarding the study committee and provide some direction the better off we’ll be.”

Any new revenue streams would be helpful for the Green Mountain State and legal sports betting could be one of them but decisions must be made on the bill by June 30.

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