Request for Proposal Pushes Vermont Closer to Legal Sports Betting

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Vermont has started the bid process for the selection of two to six mobile sports betting operators authorized by a sports betting law signed in June. 

The 125-page request for proposal (RFP) for sports betting operators was issued Wednesday by the state’s purchasing agency on behalf of regulators at the state Department of Liquor and Lottery. DLL Commissioner Wendy Knight told Gaming Today in a phone interview Thursday that bids are due Aug. 28.

Knight said her agency expects to select mobile sports betting operator winning bids no later than Sept. 22. Among the sportsbooks that could have a presence in the state are BetMGM, bet365, and Caesars.

“At that point, the operators that are selected will be notified and basically in the state of Vermont, what we do is we notify them of our intent to contract with them,” she said. ”They are invited into a contract negotiation with the state.” 

It’s a fast timeline and for good reason. Vermont intends to launch its sports betting program no later than Jan. 1, 2024, said Knight. That puts Vermont on track to launch about a month after neighboring Maine, which announced Monday that it plans to launch sports betting in November. Maine legalized sports betting in August of 2022. 

Vermont is the last New England state to legalize sports betting. Annual state revenue from mobile sports betting in Vermont could net around $10.6 million according to official state estimates.

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How Vermont Plans To Vet Bidders

Vermont’s sports betting regulation is different from many states. Regulations — at least in this context — are called enhanced procedures, not regulations. Taxes on sports betting operators aren’t called taxes, but revenue share. And licensing isn’t licensing, it’s a contract.

Enhanced procedures for Vermont sports betting took effect on Wednesday, allowing the state to issue the RFP, said Knight. The DLL intends to review bids over the next five weeks and offer contracts to companies that meet bid qualifications, she told Gaming Today. 

If a company accepts the state’s offer, it will then pay a $550,000 operator fee (required by statute) and offer mobile sports betting in the state for three years, with an option to renew for two additional one-year periods.  

To be considered for a contract, a sportsbook company is expected to include the following in its bid:

  • An estimate of their potential sports betting revenue and revenue share percentage to the state (with a minimum required revenue share of 20 percent).
  • The number of individually branded websites the operator proposes to use for sports wagering operations (assuming there is more than one brand).
  • A responsible gaming plan and RG safeguards used in other jurisdictions.
  • List of all jurisdictions where the operator or any parent companies are authorized to conduct sports wagering.
  • The operator’s player acquisition model, advertising and affiliate programs, and marketing budget “including details on how the Bidder will convert customers from wagering through illegal channels to wagering legally in the state.”
  • Timeframe to implement operations.
  • Information on the operator’s integrity monitoring systems.
  • A plan “for maximizing sustainable, long-term revenue for the state, including a detailed market analysis.” 

Other factors that could influence contracting decisions are whether a bidder is a Vermont company or has Vermont ties, and if the bidder has practices in place to “promote clean energy and address climate change.” 

From 2 to 6 to None: Is a No-Contract Situation Likely?

Vermont is required to contract with at least two mobile sports betting operators under the state’s sports betting law signed on June 14. That’s made clear in 2023 H.127, which states: 

“The Commissioner shall negotiate and contract to authorize a minimum of two but not more than six operators to operate a sportsbook in Vermont through a mobile sports wagering platform.” 

But there is a caveat. If the DLL is unable to find qualified applicants, or “if the competitive bidding process fails to produce a sufficient number of qualified applicants,” then the state can contract with one operator or none. 

Knight can also negotiate with another bidder or “end the proposal process entirely,” per the RFP. She did not indicate that was likely in her interview with Gaming Today on Thursday. 

VT Sports Betting Launch Appears Imminent

When asked how many sportsbooks she sees in Vermont, Knight said it will depend on the bids. But she made clear in her committee testimony on H. 127 last spring. In a letter to the state Senate Appropriations Committee on April 27, Knight seemed intent on getting sports betting into law and teed up for launch. 

“Time is critical with the sports wagering bill,” Knight wrote in the letter. “The sooner the General Assembly passes the bill, the sooner DLL can set up the regulated market. 

 “I know the Committee shares the Administration’s commitment to legalizing — at long last — sports wagering in Vermont.”

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott Signs Mobile Sports Betting Bill Into Law

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Legislative Writer
Based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, Hanchett has been known to watch UK. basketball from time to time.

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