Will Vermont Select Winning Sportsbook Bids This Week?

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Vermont may be getting closer to deciding which — if any — of five current bidders will be offered mobile sports betting contracts in the Green Mountain State.

The state’s top sports betting regulator and Department of Liquor and Lottery Commissioner Wendy Knight told Gaming Today in late July that her agency intends to select winning bids by Sept. 22.

That’s in four days.

“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,” Knight told Gaming Today. ”They are invited into a contract negotiation with the state.”

It’s unclear if that timeline is still applicable, however. DLL Communications Director Charles Martin told Gaming Today in an email on Monday that the agency has no comment on a potential contract timeline “at this time, other than we are on target to go live January 1, 2024.”

Which sportsbooks will be offered contracts depends on several factors now being evaluated by Knight and her agency — including proposed revenue share with the state.

Five sportsbooks are competing for as few as two and as many as six sportsbook contracts authorized by the state’s 2023 sports betting law. According to a bid sheet on the state Office of Purchasing and Contracting website, the five sportsbooks are Betfair Interactive US, LLC (FanDuel Sportsbook); BetMGM; Crown VT Gaming LLC (DraftKings sports betting app); FBG Enterprises Opco, LLC (Fanatics Vermont); Penn Sports Interactive, LLC (ESPN Bet).

Revenue Share a Deciding Factor

All five sportsbooks bidding for a spot in the Vermont sports betting market are being evaluated based on criteria set out in the state Request for Proposal (RFP) with a total of 1,000 points possible per applicant. Up to 800 points are based on technical criteria (including strength of services (140 points) and responsible gaming policies (140 points)). The remaining 200 points are based on revenue criteria, with those points split evenly between potential gross revenue and proposed revenue share.

The higher the proposed revenue share, the better a sportsbook’s chances of landing a contract, according to the RFP issued in July.

Any bidder who agrees to pay 51 percent or more of its adjusted gross mobile sports betting revenue to the state will receive the highest number of points (100) for that revenue criteria. Sportsbooks who agree to the minimum rate (by law) of 20 percent will only receive 25 points.

Additionally, that revenue share will remain “firm” for the initial term of a contract, or three years plus a brief implementation period.

State Negotiators Have a Lot of Leeway

It is unclear how long the contract negotiation process will take once bid evaluations are complete, or how many initial mobile apps will come to Vermont.

Although the law authorizes the DLL to contract with between two and six sportsbooks, it can contract with as few as one or none if  “in the best interest of the state,” per the RFP.

That’s in accordance with 2023 H.127, the state’s sports betting law. Although the law says the Commissioner of DLL “shall negotiate and contract to authorized a minimum of two but not more than six operators” for mobile sports betting in Vermont, it adds this:

“This subsection shall not be construed to require the Department to authorize unqualified applicants to conduct a sportsbook.  If the competitive bidding process fails to produce a sufficient number of qualified applicants, the Department may:  (A)  decline to authorize any operators to operate a sportsbook; or (B)  authorize a single operator to conduct a sportsbook.”

But with up to five nationally branded sportsbooks competing for a contract in Vermont, it’s unlikely that a one-or-none scenario here will prevail.

Will Maine Launch before Vermont?

Vermont is the last New England state to legalize sports betting.

Gov. Phil Scott signed the state’s mobile sports betting law into effect on June 14 after a swift push through both houses of the Vermont state legislature last spring.

Also set for launch in the coming months is nearby Maine, which has had a slow regulatory process since that state legalized sports betting in Aug. 2022.

According to WMTW-TV in Portland, the Pine Tree State is expected to launch sports betting in November pending approval of necessary rules by the state Attorney General.

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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