In a press release on Tuesday, Dec. 12, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and Wendy Knight, the Department of Liquor and Lottery commissioner, jointly declared the state’s official start date for online sports betting. The anticipated launch date has been set for Jan. 11, 2024, signaling a significant milestone in Vermont’s foray into the realm of online sports wagering.
While Vermont sports betting legislation permits the licensing of up to six operators, the state’s regulatory body received applications from five. Despite the application from this select group of sportsbooks, the regulatory commission has indicated that only three of these operators will initially receive authorization to commence accepting bets upon launch.
Among the approved operators for the venture are DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fanatics Vermont, marking their entry and expansion into the state. However, while highly competitive, the application of BetMGM and Penn Entertainment’s ESPN Bet did not receive approval in this round of selections.
“I first proposed Vermont legalize sports wagering several years ago, and it’s good to see it come to fruition,” Scott said. “Vermonters and visitors alike will soon be able to access a regulated sports wagering marketplace, which will come with important consumer protections and generate revenue for the state.”
“We are excited to offer sports enthusiasts the ability to engage in sports wagering in Vermont with three of the industry’s top companies,” Knight said.
Following the paperwork completion, operators commenced a pre-registration phase on Dec. 12, enabling them to actively promote their brands and facilitate pre-registration for potential players ahead of the anticipated January launch date.
BetMGM’s Revenue Sharing Proposal Rejected
The commissioner detailed the revenue-sharing arrangements, specifying that DraftKings and Fanatics are set to allocate 31% of their online sports betting revenue to the state. In contrast, FanDuel committed to remit a slightly higher share of 33%.
On the other hand, BetMGM proposed a more dynamic approach, suggesting a variable revenue share based on the count of operators chosen. This proposal, as highlighted by Knight, was previously flagged as unacceptable by the state during the question-and-answer phase for Vermont’s request for proposals (RFP).
The commissioner highlighted that this aspect impacted BetMGM’s overall evaluation. However, she explicitly clarified that she did not perceive the operator’s bid as outright rejected despite these considerations.
“We gave their proposal careful consideration,” Knight said. “Ultimately, they were not selected because their bid scoring was considerably lower than the other three operators because of the unacceptable revenue share proposal.”
ESPN Bet Deemed Materially Non-Compliant
In the evaluation process, the bid submitted by Penn Entertainment & ESPN BET faced a setback. According to Knight, it was deemed “materially non-compliant and not accepted.”
The disqualification stemmed from the absence of specific documentation mandated by the RFP guidelines, which were crucial for a comprehensive and compliant submission. Despite the potential and merits of the proposal, the omission of essential documentation rendered it unacceptable, underscoring the stringent adherence to the RFP’s stipulated requirements.
On ESPN Bet’s non-approval in Vermont, the commissioner said:
“Therefore, the Department didn’t ‘reject’ the bid from Penn Sports,” Knight said. “It was not evaluated or considered because it was not deemed a compliant bid by the State department responsible for State contracting and RFPs as per State policy.”
The commissioner also highlighted Vermont’s commitment to fostering responsible gambling practices by ensuring the timely rollout of the state’s dedicated responsible gambling program and self-exclusion list. The program will be operational on the same day as the launch.
Extensive Vermont Sports Betting Catalog
As the launch date draws near, the state recently unveiled its extensive catalog, outlining various wagering options available to prospective bettors.
Published by the state’s Board of Liquor and Lottery, this comprehensive catalog promises Vermont bettors options ranging from the unconventional, such as windsurfing, cornhole, and drone racing, to the traditional betting market, like NBA, NFL, and MLB.
Bettors will also find opportunities to wager on popular esports titles like Call of Duty, Madden, Rocket League, and NBA 2K.