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Nominally Competitive Sports Betting Market Now Live In Vermont

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • Just in time for the NFL playoffs, sports betting is live in Vermont.
  • The state’s Department of Liquor and Lottery has oversight of sports betting.
  • Three sportsbooks are live at launch: DraftKings, Fanatics and FanDuel.

The state motto of Vermont is ‘freedom and unity’. I don’t know about the unity but there sure seems to be a lot of contempt for ‘freedom’–at least relative to sports betting. Sports betting is now live in the Green Mountain State just in time for the NFL playoffs. Green Mountain State? The highest point in Vermont is Mount Mansfield at 4,393 feet above sea level. My house growing up in Utah was at a higher altitude. Sorry, Vermont those aren’t mountains–green or otherwise. THESE are mountains:

But I digress….as for ‘freedom’ nothing says it like a tightly controlled market that allows a maximum of six sportsbooks to set up shop in the state. Suffice to say that companies aren’t rushing in to Vermont for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the state’s minuscule population of 647,464 (as of 7/1/23). That’s roughly 64,000 more than the least populated state in the US aka Wyoming–which not only has better mountains and more freedom but a legitimately competitive regulatory framework for sports betting. Despite all of the lip service that Americans give about the country being a shining example of ‘free market capitalism’ it never ceases to amazes me just how much contempt there is for actual marketplace competition.

Vermont certainly isn’t alone in throwing out dubious revenue projections for sports betting but the state says that they expect to bring in $7 million in revenue during its first year, with projections of annual revenues reaching between $15 million and $18 million ‘as the market develops’. Unless a few million more people move to Vermont they’re dreaming. They’ll be lucky to do the numbers that Wyoming is doing–between $50 and $100 *thousand* USD per month. Since sports betting launched in Wyoming (9/21) state tax revenues have totaled just over $1.4 million USD.

So not only are the short term projections outlandish the long term projections are farcical for yet another reason besides simple math. Since it’s contingent on the ‘market developing’ in Vermont and that’s not going to happen without a massive population influx (also not going to happen). And lest we forget, the non-competitive market structure will work strongly against ‘market development’.

The three sportsbooks at launch are DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fanatics. These companies are interested in adding another state to their roster and don’t mind being in a revenue neutral (or more likely money losing) market to facilitate that.

Wendy Knight, the Department of Liquor and Lottery Commissioner, expressed enthusiasm about the launch but didn’t talk about the negligible revenue it’ll bring in:

“We are pleased to have selected three of the industry’s top companies to offer Vermonters and visitors the opportunity to engage in mobile sports wagering in a fun and safe regulatory environment.”

The groundwork for this development was laid in June 2023 when Governor Phil Scott enacted sports betting legislation, creating a structured regulatory system under the Department of Liquor and Lottery’s oversight. This framework is designed to include critical consumer protections, including a prohibition on credit card gambling and a dedicated fund to address problem gambling.

DraftKings North America’s President, Matt Kalish, feigned excitement about the Vermont launch:

“As a Boston-based company, we are thrilled for the opportunity to further expand in the New England region and provide Vermont with access to safe and legal sports betting. This is an exciting time of year with the NFL Playoffs about to kick off, and Vermonters will now have the opportunity to engage with their favorite sports on our industry-leading DraftKings Sportsbook app.”

Vermont becomes the 26th state where DraftKings has established its presence, while Fanatics Sportsbook enters its 10th state, and FanDuel marks its presence in 25 states.

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