Consumer ‘harm minimization’ discussed
By Guy Page
Legal sports betting in Vermont could net up to $10 million in state revenue by its second year of operation, according to a state-mandated report released July 12 by the Legislature’s Office of the Legislative Counsel and the Joint Fiscal Office.
The study neither recommends nor discourages legalizing sport wagering. At present there is no legislation under consideration. However, revenue-conscious lawmakers have sporadically raised the possibility of tapping into a potentially lucrative revenue stream, as have two of Vermont’s fellow New England states.
Legal sports betting in New Hampshire and Rhode Island both net about $9 million annually for state coffers. New Hampshire dedicates the money to the education fund, comprising just under one percent of the billion-dollar school budget.
The study, “Examination of the Regulation and Taxation of Sports Wagering in States with Active Sports Wagering Markets,” was mandated by Act 70, AKA the miscellaneous alcoholic beverage bill passed in June, 2021.
Sports wagering is prohibited in Vermont but legal in some form in 31 states, including Washington D.C.. Gambling in general is illegal (fines of $5 – $200), except for some charitable games and raffles, including the sale of ‘break open’ tickets. Also, there is a legal market for registered fantasy sports contests.
Nationwide, the growth of legal sports wagering has been predominantly carried by three headwinds: the desire of state governments to convert the illegal market to a liquid, taxable market; the emerging interest of sports leagues to increase fan engagement with broadcast events; and the demise of the nationwide prohibition on sports wagering and sports lotteries, the report said.
The report’s second-year revenue projections run from $1.4 million to $10.3 million, depending on the regulatory scheme and the proposed level of taxation.
Gambling addiction? The report discusses how other states address – or attempt to address – gambling addiction and consumer protection.
“States address harm minimization through responsible gaming programs. Responsible gaming programs include the establishment of state-run responsible gaming programs, responsible gaming notice requirements for operators, and the dedication of a portion of state revenue to gambling addiction resources for those within the state.
“At the preventive level, responsible gaming programs are aimed at educating consumers on how to enjoy gambling in a sustainable manner and how to recognize the signs of gambling addiction. Preventive resources also include notices and advertisements concerning responsible gaming. Nearly every state has enacted a statutory requirement for operators to post and regularly display responsible gaming notices for consumers.
“At the early interventive level, responsible gaming mechanisms prevent escalation of problematic gambling behaviors. Often, operators are in the best position to monitor and recognize these behaviors. Operators have the greatest volume of valuable consumer data that can be used to identify when a bettor is displaying problematic gambling behaviors.
“Some jurisdictions have implemented regulatory requirements for operators to offer ‘precommitment’ tools. Pre-commitment allows an individual bettor to establish wagering limitations on their account. Pre-commitment is framed as a budgetary tool and has been successful at managing problematic gambling behavior.”