Gaming Laws in Vermont
Legal gaming in the state of Vermont is virtually non-existent. In 1960, the state ratified Act 259 to allow for pari-mutuel betting on live horse racing; but with no live racing held in the state, this law is rendered obsolete. There are no casinos in the state of Vermont on the privately owned or tribal level, and recent legislation to push for a state casino in 2011 did not even make it out of committee.
Lenient Gambling Laws
Despite Vermont's lack of gaming options around the state, there aren't severe penalties on the books for partaking in gambling. The Vermont Statutes do prohibit winning or losing by gambling within section 2141 with the following: “A person who wins or loses money or other valuable thing by play or hazard at any game, or by betting on such play or hazard, or sharing in a stake wagered by others on such play or hazard, shall be fined not more than $200.00 nor less than $10.00.”
In other words, according to state laws, betting on an event or a game only carries the risk of being fined up to $200. This is a relatively lenient penalty for a state that recognizes gambling as illegal.
Sports Betting in Vermont
Under the law that winning or losing money betting on any game is illegal, sports betting is illegal in the state of Vermont. As mentioned above, it comes with a fairly lax potential penalty of a fine of up to $200. The state does take a harder stance against bookmakers or locations that accept bets however with up to 60 days imprisonment to prosecuted offenders.
For sports bettors in the state, betting at an offshore sportsbook is likely to be a more reliable and safer option than betting with a local bookmaker. Offshore sportsbooks fall outside of the jurisdiction of Vermont's state laws and most that accept United States residents will accept residents of Vermont.
Relatively speaking, Vermont seems like a safe place to bet on sports online. There is no specific mention of online gambling in the Vermont Statutes, and the only listed mention of the illegality of sports comes with the risk of a fine with no imprisonment. No one in the state of Vermont to date has been arrested or charged with a crime for betting on sports online, and nothing in the state's outdated laws on gambling suggest that enforcing this law is a priority.
Poker and Casino in Vermont
Casino gaming and legal live poker are non-existent in the state of Vermont. While house poker games seem to be tolerated, by the rules laid out in the Vermont Statutes they are technically illegal. The only form of poker that is explicitly legal in Vermont is in the form of a charity event.
Strictly speaking, online poker at an offshore poker room is safer for residents of Vermont than playing in a local house game. Section 2133 of the Vermont Statutes states that “a person who plays at cards, dice, tables or other games for money or other valuables 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 sixty days, or both.” A house game isn't likely to fall under the definition of a “gambling house”, but it technically could if it hosted a regular game.
On the other hand, there is no mention of online gambling anywhere in Vermont's laws, and there is no other mention made about playing cards or poker specifically. Online poker players would only be breaking the rule of “winning or losing at gambling” that comes with a potential fine of $200.
Other Gaming Options in Vermont
With Vermont's limited options on gambling, the Vermont Lottery is about as good as it gets. There are no casinos, poker rooms, or horse racing tracks located in the state, so the best action for gamblers that don't want to travel outside of the state to neighboring casinos is the lottery.
In addition to scratch-off tickets, Vermont has drawings in the Tri-State Lottery with Maine and New Hampshire and is also included in the multi-state drawings of the Mega Millions and the Powerball. Since 1998, all profits from the Vermont Lottery go to the state's education fund.