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Online sports betting to launch in Vermont in January

A person holds a smartphone displaying four different sports betting apps
Jeff Chiu
Associated Press
FanDuel, DraftKings and other online gambling apps are displayed on a phone in San Francisco, Sept. 26, 2022. Vermont legalized sports betting on June 14, 2023 and observers expect the system to go live in 2024.

In the new year, Vermonters will be able to make online bets on their favorite sports teams and players. Online sports betting is set to officially launch in the state on January 11th. Vermont is the last state in New England to legalize the practice.

Earlier this month, Governor Phil Scott’s administration selected three companies to operate online sports wagering platforms. Those companies are DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fanatics Sportsbooks.

"We looked at the proposals compared to the evaluation criteria," said Wendy Knight, Vermont’s Liquor and Lottery commissioner. "The legislature intends to prioritize selection based on protecting Vermonters from problem gambling, converting the illegal market to a legal market, and then maximizing revenue to the state."

To place a bet online, you have to be over the age of 21. Knight says the operators have established an ID verification system to make sure people under that age aren't signing up for the apps. The Department of Liquor and Lottery is responsible for overseeing whether the operators are abiding by the regulations and procedures.

Some Vermonters argue that gambling, legal or not, can lead to addictive and unhealthy behavior.

Hardwick addiction counselor Gary Mitchell says there are people who can gamble responsibly and walk away.

"But then you have that small percentage of the population that may develop significant issues," Mitchell says. "This is just giving them easier access, and we have to be careful of who we're getting access, about recognizing the signs, and making sure that the resources are there to deal with it."

Mitchell says there will be a learning curve for Vermont counselors around learning what the good questions to ask are.

Broadcast at noon Monday, Dec. 18, 2023; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.