Land-based gambling is hard to come by in Vermont due to a combination of anti-gambling laws and a lack of land-based casinos. There are no federally-recognized Indian tribes to operate tribal casinos and state laws do not permit the operation of private casinos. Lawmakers have attempted to pass legislation in recent years that would allow at least one private casino, but those efforts have all stalled out at this time.
Social games appear to be outlawed based on the state’s vague laws that prohibit gambling wherever it takes place. No state statute provides an exact definition of gambling but the state seems to group poker in with gambling in State Statute § 2133 that makes it an offense to play “cards, dice, tables or other game for money or other valuable in a common gambling house…”
Vermont Betting Sites that are Safe and Legal
Horse and Greyhound Betting:
Games of Skill:
Online Poker and Casinos
Online betting is subject to some restrictions as well. Vermont state statutes make no mention of the internet so additional legislation would need to be passed before the state would permit online poker or online casinos. To date, there have been no major efforts to change the legal situation for either form of internet betting.
Lawmakers have discussed giving the state lottery more regulatory power to oversee additional forms of land-based gambling and possibly online ticket sales. If the lottery does eventually get those powers, it would bring us closer to making online poker and gambling a reality. These things usually move one step at a time beginning with land-based gambling, limited forms of online betting and eventually full-fledged internet casinos and poker sites. But for now, there are no legal options for poker players and gamblers.
The good news is other forms of internet wagering are permitted in the state. State laws do not prohibit residents from placing real money bets at licensed horse racing sites, fantasy sports betting sites or on games of skill. See the previous section for a look at what’s legal right now in the Green Mountain State.
Online poker and casino-style gambling are not legal in Vermont but there are a few forms of wagering that are legal right now. These sites aren’t just “legal” in the sense that they operate from foreign countries and claim to be outside US jurisdiction; these sites are truly legal under US law. In fact, each of these sites is headquartered in the United States and operates in the open with no fear of legal repercussions.
Expanded Gambling Proposals
Some Vermont lawmakers have expressed passing interest in evaluating the feasibility of expanding Vermont’s gambling options. Bill H-0781 was enacted in 2013 for the purpose of providing appropriations for the operations of the state government. Included in the bill was an order that the lottery commission study the option of selling lottery tickets online (page 131).
We haven’t heard anything about the VT lottery getting into online ticket sales since then but it does look like a possibility in the future. As of right now, you may only buy tickets in person or sign up for a subscription in which the lottery will automatically enter you into 26, 52 or 104 drawings.
In 2013, representatives introduced H.93 in an effort to legalize one land-based casino in the state. Had it passed, this bill would have given the Lottery Commission the authority to issue one license to a qualified applicant. The licensing fee would have been $5 million and it would have been issued for a six-year term. This bill was ultimately shot down.
Representative Clem Bissonnette introduced H.186 in 2013 in order to establish the “Vermont Gaming Commission” to license, regulate and manage gambling activities within the state. This bill would have allowed for the licensing of poker halls and home poker games. H. 186 never made it out of the Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs where it was introduced.
That about sums it up for proposed changes to Vermont’s gaming laws. As you can see, there have been some rumblings about online gambling but nothing serious yet. The good thing about all this is that the state doesn’t seem completely opposed to the idea.
State Gaming Laws
Vermont’s State Statutes restrict most forms of gambling. There is no land-based industry and the statutes do not make an exception for social gambling (such as playing poker with your friends at home). State authorities probably won’t kick in the front door of your friendly poker game with your buddies, but there is some risk in participating in organized games or actual underground casinos.
§ 2133 is one of the primary pieces of text pertaining to gamblers. This section explains that most forms of gambling are illegal:
A person who plays at cards, dice, tables or other game for money or other valuable in a common gaming or gambling house that is maintained for lucre and gain, shall be fined not more than $200.00 or imprisoned not more than 60 days, or both.
Interestingly, § 2141 makes it a crime to win or lose money by gambling. This section says that any person who wins or loses money or other valuable thing by play or hazard at any game, or by betting on someone else playing a game shall be fined $10 to $200.
Vermont does allow charitable, religious, educational and civic organizations to raise money via limited forms of gambling. There are a variety of restrictions in place that set limits on how much money can be raised, how much they can pay event organizers and how much money can awarded as prizes to the participants. State Statute § 2143 provides all the details for non-profit gaming activities.
Online gambling isn’t specifically mentioned anywhere in the state’s gaming laws but the laws are broad in scope and most likely do make it an offense to participate in unlicensed internet betting. However, there is no mechanism to enforce the law for online gamblers so there have been no arrests or prosecutions of people who play online from the privacy of home.