Vermont Sting Bust of Illegal Betting Operation Spurs Lawmakers to Reconsider Issue
Looks like Vermont is finally figuring out that just because they have banned all versions of gambling there does not mean Green Mountain State residents aren’t still gambling, with the most recent bust of a black market betting operation more proof that it’s tough to outlaw vice.
The Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery (VDLL) set up a sting operation there and it netted an underground gambling operation that reportedly cost some participants thousands of dollars, with VDLL Commissioner Wendy Knight telling the media:
Right now, we are investigating an illegal gambling operation in Vermont where the players have lost tens of thousands of dollars. That wouldn’t happen in a regulated sports betting market.
Anyone who has studied the history of prohibition knows that making something illegal only opens up a black market for that item, and it has proven true for alcohol, marijuana, prostitution, tobacco, and now gambling in Vermont is forcing its resident bettors underground.
Insiders there say it’s the ‘traditional culture’ there that’s to blame.
“Traditional Culture” of Vermont Blamed for Opposition to Sports Betting Legislation
Only one state in the U.S. (Wyoming) has less residents than Vermont., a New England state where only 643,077 humans make their home, and they are folks who enjoy entertainment like the Vermont Maple Festival, the Festival on the Green, and The Vermont Dairy Festival.
Vermont residents were recently voted 6th healthiest in the country, and they are ranked as the 12th happiest state out of fifty, so the general feeling there is ‘if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it’ and adding a legal sports betting market there doesn’t seem to fix anything.
State residents resist such change, according to Michael Sirotkin, a state senator who said:
Whether it’s alcohol or marijuana or gambling, some people are more skittish than others.
Which is their right to be, but that does not mean that those there who like to gamble aren’t still going to do so.
Vermont Sports Bettors Find Alternative Ways to Place Wagers, Including NY and NH
In the same way some Vermont residents found booze during prohibition and weed when that was against the law, they have figured out how to gamble, whether by using illicit bookies, unregulated offshore sportsbooks, or by traveling to nearby states to place their action.
It’s not a long drive to New Hampshire and New York (and soon Massachusetts, perhaps?) where that activity is already legal, so Vermont gamblers are making the trip, and all the millions of dollars that they are gambling are leaving the state instead of being taxed.
That equates to millions of annual lost dollars, according to industry experts, money that could be reinvested in a sparsely populated state with so (relatively) few taxpayers there, a happy place where, as evidenced by that recent gambling sting, people still want to wager.
Vermont lawmakers no doubt watched the results of that VDLL sting and must understand they can no longer sit this one out, and who knows, a regulated and taxed gambling scene there might be nice if they add their joyful Green Mountain touch to the thing.