Online sports betting is illegal in more than a dozen states, while most have only in-store betting. We are tracking all fifty states (and Washington D.C.). So far, the laws in Vermont are among the most progressive. Retail sales of gambling and gaming products are against the law, but the state has not yet passed legislation allowing online sports betting. Hopefully, this will change in the near future.
The House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize sports betting, but the Senate is still looking at it. Why? Because House members prefer to see the bill pass through the Senate with no changes and send to Governor Malloy’s desk as a complete package. One problem with this approach is that House members may not fully understand why legalizing gambling would be good for Vermonters. For instance, some say that because they support the status quo of gambling in the state, they do not want to see any changes in the way that gambling is regulated. Many of them also fear that legalized gambling will take away from the income that the residents of Vermont are used to, if it is made available in the same way as traditional casinos and cardrooms.
Fortunately, there are some members of the House who realize that the status quo isn’t always the best option. Representative Jared Huffman (D-Berlin) believes that it is up to the state to regulate its own casinos. He supports efforts to legalize sports betting in the state, and he sees it as a way to promote unity among the state’s diverse citizens. According to Huffman, one way that this can be done is by making it easier for tribal members to register their interest in gaming, since many individuals do not associate themselves with Native American tribes.
Representative Joe Schwilk (D-Hudson) agrees with Huffman. He thinks that the ability for individual residents to participate in the state lottery via the lottery website should be legalized. “The lottery has been a huge problem for the people in my district,” he said. “I just think that if we can legalize gambling, it makes the financial institution of the state look better.” Although Schwilk is one of the few legislators who support legalizing sports betting, many members of the House share his sentiments.
The House is expected to take up a bill during the current legislative session that would allow online sports betting in the state. Majority leader Rep. Rutledge Smith (R-LD) has already indicated that he may introduce the legislation once the current session is over. If the House passes a bill allowing online wagering, it may set up an immediate competition among members of the House to introduce the first online sports books to the state. If all members of the House support the first online sportsbooks, then it is highly likely that the House will pass a similar bill once the session is over. If not, some speculate that the issue will fester and may become a hot topic for the upcoming elections.
If legalized, House debates the merits of opening the online sports betting industry up to every resident of the state. Some worry that the large numbers of people that will take part in the system will drive up prices and make it unprofitable. Others believe that the large number of legal e-books out there will drive down on-line gambling prices, making it more affordable for everyone. If the House passes a bill legalizing sports betting in the state, it is expected that the first online betting service provider could come into existence by the end of the decade.
If the first legal retail betting service provider does not come into existence by the end of the next decade, some speculate that it will be decades before another service provider comes onto the market. In the meantime, licensed sports bettors will be able to enjoy the financial benefits that come with legally placing bets on any of the games played in the state. The tax benefits may also sway the landscape of the betting industry. Those who are in the legal betting business will have a more lucrative business model and may push the prices of legal betting services down over time.
If legalized sports betting becomes a reality in the next ten years, there is no doubt that the profitability of the industry will skyrocket. Lawmakers may have taken an important step towards establishing a regulated and legitimate system of betting in the state. However, if the law is passed and becomes popular, it may turn out to be one of the biggest mistakes that New Yorkers have made in recent history. When the legislature does not handle this responsibly, the consequences will be felt by residents of the state.