Vermont Real Money Gambling Online

There aren’t a lot of people that live in Vermont compared to bigger states, with only one state in the country having a smaller population. The people of Vermont also don’t take to real money gambling as much as we see in most other states, so this combination of few people and a smaller appetite toward gambling, combined with an even smaller appetite for it with the government, has led Vermont to be on the lesser end of the gambling scale among states, or so we would think.

All Vermont has to offer is the ability to buy traditional lottery tickets at Vermont Lottery retailers and a single charitable casino of modest size. This is still more than they have in states with just a lottery, and especially more than with states that do not allow any gambling at all like Utah. Vermont is not Utah, but is not Nevada either, and much opportunity exists to expand Vermont’s gambling scene, even with the reduced appetite that its people have for it.

What you actually can gamble on while residing in a state isn’t always so transparent though, and as it turns out, Vermont is a lot closer than a lot of people think to these other more permissive states when it comes to the gambling that you can do. Join us on a journey inside Vermont’s actual gambling scene where we’ll show you all the things you can do that you may not have been aware of.

History of Gambling in Vermont

Vermont Online Casinos and GamblingVermont, throughout its history, has never been much of a fan of gambling. They did dabble a little in lotteries back in the 18th century, at a time where lotteries were very popular among the American colonies, but Vermont took a more conservative stance toward gambling than in other parts of New England and continue to do so today even though they now have at least a smattering of gambling once again.

Vermont was the first state admitted to the union beyond the original 13, and for almost all of the period since, there was no gambling at all permitted in the state. When Vermont became a state, It’s not that this was a period where there was rampant gambling across the country, and as other states were admitted, not allowing gambling in any form was the norm, with only a few states allowing any at all.

The 20th century did bring at least some fairly widespread gambling reform across the country, although it wasn’t until 1961 that Vermont chose to approve its first form of legal gambling, when they finally said yes to pari-mutuel betting.

Green Mountain Park was opened in 1963, offering patrons the opportunity to bet on horse races. There wasn’t a whole lot of interest in this among the public though, requiring the track to run horse races in the wintertime as well to try to keep things together, in spite of how unkind their winters are. They even got the state legislature to pass a bill to approve Sunday racing in 1968, but all this still wasn’t enough for the track to thrive.

The last horse race was run in 1976, but instead of just folding the operation, the track switched to greyhound racing the following year. This did serve to successfully keep the track operating, but the lack of sufficient interest in animal race betting together with the competition that the track had from the Vermont Lottery, which surfaced around the same time as Green Mountain switched to dogs, proved too much, and by 1992 the track had run its last race.

In addition to horse racing, which is still legal but does not run anymore in this state, Vermont also wrote in provisions to allow for charitable gambling, where charities can run not only the traditional charitable game of bingo but real money poker and casino games as well. Unlike their sister state New Hampshire, who took a much more liberal approach to charitable casinos and have a vibrant and widespread charitable casino industry, Vermont’s approach has been much more modest.

Aside from the small charity bingos that are part of just about every state’s gambling landscape, there is only a single venue that offers organized charitable gambling in Vermont, the Lebanon Poker Room and Casino. They offer cash and tournament Texas Hold’em games, as well as Spanish 21, a variation of blackjack, and roulette.

The Lebanon Poker Room and Casino gets around the laws against casinos in Vermont by having charities benefit from the gambling, and the fact that they can do this in obeyance of the law should leave us wondering why there aren’t more of these places in the state. This may speak to the sheer lack of appetite for this sort of gambling in this state.

The Vermont Lottery completes the state’s current gambling scene, at least as far as what we would normally consider gambling. Vermont, interestingly perhaps, legalized daily fantasy sports in 2017, placing them among a handful of states that have passed such legislation.

States usually exclude contests of skill among participants, which daily fantasy sports betting clearly is, but Vermont is not one of those states and changing the law to allow for this was clearly needed for it to become legal.

This might have Vermont appearing to be pretty progressive, but there are very few states, the most conservative of them, that actually make such a thing against the law, as even some very conservative states build in exemptions to risking items of value on skill-based events like this, and this really only took Vermont’s gambling laws to very conservative to only a little less so.

Vermonters have had a lottery since 1978. This is not one of the more progressive lotteries in the country who offer versions of online gambling and even electronic gaming machines that function like slot machines do, and Vermont does not even allow their traditional lottery tickets, the only thing they offer, to be purchased online.

Vermont does not have any federally regulated Indian tribes to take advantage of the federal law passed in 1988 allowing federally regulated tribes to offer gambling under their authority. There are therefore no tribal casinos in Vermont, or any commercial gambling at all these days, their sole charitable casino notwithstanding.

As hard as the winds of change have blown over the last while in the country as a whole, these gusts have not reached Vermont yet, and there is nothing out there to suggest this will change anytime soon. It’s not that Vermonters haven’t made any attempts, but the expansion of Vermont’s gambling market simply does not have enough support at the present time to make it a viable pursuit.

Vermont Key Facts

  • Abbreviation: VT
  • State Motto(s): Freedom and Unity & Stella quarta decima fulgeat (May the 14th star shine bright)
  • Capital City: Montpelier
  • Largest City: Burlington
  • Population Estimate: 623,989 (49th)
  • Website: www.vermont.gov

Vermont Gambling Laws

Writing gambling laws that seek to prohibit everything that a state considers to be gambling would appear to be a pretty easy task, as we might think that all is required is for a state to declare that all gambling for money or any other consideration is illegal without specific authority from the state.

We immediately run into a problem with what is to be understood as gambling or not, and as it turns out, states do not want to prohibit gambling in general, but only certain types. People gamble their time for instance, something of value, with the expectation of getting paid, where chances are taken, however slight, that we may end up losing this bet and not having money handed over to us as a result of our wager of sorts.

Banning gambling entirely is therefore far too broad for the purposes that are sought to be achieved by gambling law, which is the reason why so many states rely on specific definitions of gambling to be used for the purposes of the law. This can result in a lot of problems, where the definition is initially made too inclusive which requires a number of exemptions, where the exemptions themselves can create uncertainty and may not in themselves be inclusive of everything the state wishes to exempt.

Vermont takes a different approach to defining the scope of what they seek to prohibit, confining their law to a specific form of gambling, which also happens to be the form that other states which to prohibit as well, the staking of items of value while playing a game. Vermont does not even make the mistake of using the term playing a game as a few states do, as this leaves open the question of whether betting on games like we do when we bet on sporting events qualifies as playing a game, and there’s a good argument that it does not, which gets missed by these laws.

Vermont gambling law prohibits both the wagering of items of value or winning or losing money “by play or hazard at any game,” and this not only confines the scope of the law to that involving a game of some sort, it also successfully prohibits all wagering involving games, including participating in one yourself as we would playing real money poker or real money casino games, or betting on games such as we do when we bet on sports.

States who intend on banning betting on games generally need a separate provision because their main provision seeks to ban the playing of games, where they need something else to address situations which do not involve the bettor participating in the game itself, as is the case when you bet on an outcome of a game that you have no part in.

This is where their addressing the act as “by play or hazard” comes in, where sports bettors may not play a game but they do hazard, they do put something at risk of being lost as a result of the contest.

The law does depend on how the term game is to be defined, and without further direction, we are left to depend upon the common definition, what would normally be understood as a game and not something else. This actually serves the purpose of the law very well, as all the things that states which to prohibit, what is commonly understood as gambling, clearly involves betting on the outcome of games, where other practices such as normal business transactions involving financial risk based upon future outcomes are not events that we would consider to primarily be games.

Even though this provision, “Winning or Losing by Gambling,” is completely sufficient in successfully accomplishing the legislative objective of banning all wagers on games, they have a separate infraction called “At Gaming House,” where winning or losing by gambling “in a common gaming or gambling house that is maintained for lucre and gain” involves a separate fine. Winning or losing at gambling risks a fine up to $200, while doing it at a gambling house has the same maximum fine but also risks imprisonment for up to 60 days.

This law is focused upon the playing of games of chance, playing “at cards, dice, tables, or any other game for money,” which is clearly targeted at commercial gambling, and being found gambling privately is left out, although it would definitely be included in the winning or losing at gambling provision which includes all gambling in any setting. However, it may be instructive to consider that Vermont used to have a law alongside its gaming house law that banned private gambling specifically, and the fact that this law has since been repealed may suggest that the intention may not be to include private gambling, or at least not intend to prosecute it.

If someone were charged with gambling in private in Vermont, this might represent a defense to the charge, as when the part of the law that specifically prohibited the action being charged with becomes repealed, this is pretty good evidence that Vermont law has changed their mind about this being against the law.

This is the only question that Vermont gambling law leaves open at all, as this really couldn’t be used as a defense for online gambling for instance because the law was repealed prior to this form of gambling even coming into existence so it would be hard to make a good argument that their repealing this law demonstrated an intent to place online gambling outside this law, if such a thing could even be considered gambling in private.

Courts naturally interpret gambling laws pretty inclusively and it’s difficult enough for them to recognize issues that are actually persuasive under close analysis, so if it was possible to catch someone gambling online, which it isn’t by the way, it is very likely that online gambling would be understood to be within the scope of Vermont’s gambling provisions.

The bottom line is that all gambling is against the law in Vermont unless otherwise authorized by the state, other than perhaps social gambling which may be outside it through inference. So far, all we have is betting on horses being legal without any place to do it, the Vermont Lottery with its traditional lottery games, playing fantasy sports competitions, if this is even to be considered gambling, and a single charitable casino of a modest size.

Land-Based Gambling in Vermont

Vermont has very little land-based gambling, nor is there any more on the way. It is not that there aren’t quite a few other states in the country that do not have any land-based commercial gambling options apart from their lottery retailers and charitable gambling, so Vermont doesn’t stand out all that much in this area, and it’s the lack of anything else, no horse racing, no tribal casinos, no electronic lottery terminals, no other land-based gambling in any form, that makes this state stand out as so dry.

Some states have benefited by being forced into seeing their Indian tribes offer casino gambling on their tribal lands, which has served to help break their resolve against it enough for several states to join the fray and authorize some non-tribal casino gambling on their own, but without this prodding, Vermont has managed to prevent any of this thus far.

There was an attempt to try to get Vermont to approve a land-based casino in 2011, but that fell flat on its face, and has not been able to get back up since. The next year, they decided to just shoot for permission to buy lottery tickets online, but this was also beyond the limits of acceptability, and still isn’t legal to do today.

However, there’s enough that’s possible now by way of the berth that Vermont provides to those who offer charitable gambling to substantially change the landscape, where the matter that is stopping the state having casinos actually only comes down to whether or not they are to be operated to benefit people or organizations that are for profit entities.

It turns out that there isn’t a lot of difference between a for profit casino operation and a non-profit one, other than what the profits are used for. For profit organizations operate to enrich the operators personally, where non-profits use the profits for other purposes, to further the social aims of their organizations, or their sponsoring charities.

The main reason why we do not see the allowance of casino gambling with charities make much of an impact upon a state’s gambling market is due to the small size and lack of wherewithal among a state’s charitable organizations, who are simply not in the business of casino operation and lack the wherewithal and organization to create actual stand-alone charitable casinos. However, should a state be willing to allow them to partner up with those who do have the means for this, intermediaries that can build such places and distribute the profits to the charities, this can unlock some real potential.

New Hampshire has a whole gambling industry structured this way, and Vermont has taken the lead on a limited basis by allowing a single charitable casino, the Lebanon Poker Room and Casino. The Lebanon distributes its profits to various local charities, and this allows them to host a legal poker room, as well as offering table games like roulette and blackjack, just like a for profit casino would. They rake the poker tables and enjoy the normal house edge just like a normal casino would, but this also helps out these charities, which makes the state government happy enough and allows this place to operate within state law.

This is the only real money casino gambling that Vermont has at present, and while there is the potential for more of this, it is more challenging to expand gambling this way as operators normally want to skim the profits for themselves. They do get paid for their administrative role in this though so it’s not a matter of the people that run these places donating their time, but this is a lesser incentive to be sure, although enough of one that this can work pretty well and allow players to enjoy real money poker and casino without having to travel to another state to do it.

The Vermont Lottery is just your normal lottery though, requiring that players physically visit the various lottery retailers in the state to purchase traditional lottery tickets. The Vermont Lottery has been reluctant to seek to expand itself as some other state lotteries have, and are in no hurry to do so, and although over 40 years have not served to weaken their resistance toward progress very much, changing attitudes towards gambling in the country as a whole may eventually serve to prod them.

Vermont Online Casinos & Slots Gambling

If you don’t permit commercial casino gambling at all, as Vermont does not, it is not surprising that you don’t allow any online commercial gambling either, a prospect that tends to scare those opposed to gambling even more than the land-based versions do.

The transition toward accepting gambling more generally involves starting out by physically segregating it and offering residents a limited degree of access to it, but online gambling turns the whole state into a poker room, a casino, and a sports book, which requires a higher level of permissibility than having a few land-based casinos scattered in select locations.

Vermont needs to open themselves up more toward the idea of permitting more gambling in general, and if they don’t want to allow even a single commercial casino or poker room, allowing everyone in the state access to one or more operating on a much bigger scale isn’t going to be in the cards yet.

The internet is a different beast though as far as gambling regulation goes. Vermont has the authority and the means to regulate all of the gambling that goes on in their state, but gambling on the internet does not occur in the state, in their domain of control, and they or no one else can successfully regulate the internet.

Only sites can be regulated, and the extent of the involvement of the state of Vermont is whether they choose to regulate these sites themselves, to choose to stand among all of the other such sites on the world that share the information highway.

There may not be any regulated real money online gambling in Vermont, but there is plenty of it occurring elsewhere, completely beyond the reach and influence of the state of Vermont. People travel on the internet at fantastic speeds, fast enough to interact in real time with any location in the world.

There are many such destinations that have no problem allowing people from other countries, including those from Vermont, to play all of their favorite ways to bet online, whether it be real money online poker, real money casino games, or betting real money on the sporting events of your choice. All you need is to be pointed in the right direction, and then you can be on your way.

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Future of Gambling in Vermont

Vermont’s gambling scene has always been pretty stuck in the mud, where any movement at all has become difficult, and remains so today. When all you have is the lottery and charitable gambling, and haven’t updated your scene in over 40 years, apart from allowing fantasy sports which isn’t even gambling, you move pretty slowly indeed.

Vermont has no plans at the present time to end this long drought, as the great wave that is sweeping over the country driving the tremendous expansion in gambling in America has not hit Vermont. Vermont hasn’t even seen any ripples yet.

It’s not as of Vermont even needs to change any laws to expand considerably, as they could just expand the number of charitable casinos that the state has from just one to many. Perhaps there simply isn’t the will for Vermonters to organize more of these places, or perhaps the people’s appetite isn’t all that great.

Vermont’s appetite for land-based casino gambling surely is enough to support more than one, so this has to come down to the charitable road simply not being as compelling as it is in New Hampshire, who also allow charitable casinos and have quite a few of them across their state. Perhaps Vermont is headed that way, only moving much more slowly. Only time will tell, and with no real indication, all you can do is wait for more to pass.

There isn’t any particular reason why Vermont has been so slow to take to the idea that gambling really isn’t something that governments should stand in the way of, or at least have the appeal of stronger economies and higher tax revenues outweigh any ideas they may have that prohibiting gambling is appropriate.

The state of Vermont does get to decide such things as how much land-based gambling that is allowed, or whether or not they ever choose to license and regulate real money online gambling, but they don’t get to decide what their people do online. Some states even write laws specifically banning online gambling, as if they ever could have a say in these things, as if laws like this could ever be enforced.

It was not the Vermont government that beckoned Vermonters into a new era in gambling, it was the coming of the internet, where people can visit other countries and gamble at the sites located there completely beyond the purview of Vermont. As long as a real money gambling site accepts Vermonters, their door is open, and all you do is walk through it.

The best real money online gambling in the world awaits, and we’ll even show you the best places to enjoy yourself at.

Vermont Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
  • Did Vermont have any gambling in its colonial days?

    Lotteries were very popular in the American Colonies of the 18th century, at a time when they really started to grow, when many a major public project was funded by lottery profits. By the time the country was founded, there was a movement away from lotteries and gambling in general, although some states held on for a while. Vermont never did get bit very much by the gambling bug as a colony and it becoming a state proved to cure it entirely.

  • What is it against the law to gamble at in Vermont?

    Vermont prohibits the staking of items of value “by play or hazard at any game.” This very elegant approach, requiring so few words, serves to make completely clear that it is against the law to play poker for money, play real money casino games, wager on sports, bet on races, and buy lottery tickets, in both public and private, and even makes it illegal to bet on yourself at a game of pure skill. It also leaves out other types of staking not involving games.

  • Why is the addition of the term “hazard” in Vermont law so important?

    There are three key terms in Vermont’s short law against gambling, which are “game,” “play,” and “hazard”. Using the term “game” defines what the law seeks to ban, gambling at games, while leaving out what it doesn’t want. Many states make it against the law to “play” a game, but this leaves out wagering on games you don’t play. By adding “hazard,” another word for risking something, this captures wagers on games as well.

  • Why might it still be legal to engage in private gambling in Vermont?

    In spite of the fact that Vermont’s law in itself does not make the distinction between wagering at games in public or in private, as you do so as surely in private as you do in public, there is another reason that at least casts uncertainty as to whether private gambling may be found to be illegal. Vermont used to also have two additional laws, one making gambling in public against the law and one banning private gambling, and the private gambling one became repealed.

  • Could gambling online be considered private gambling in Vermont?

    Like social gambling, online gambling, in all its forms, is clearly against the law in Vermont. Online gambling involves playing games or hazarding on games for money, where the act of hazarding or playing definitely occurs in the state and not some other location like questions of where the game is played bring up. The repeal of Vermont’s private gambling provision was aimed at home games, between players, where online gambling is not private in this sense.

  • What legal forms of gambling does Vermont have?

    All you can gamble on legally in Vermont at the present time is to purchase lottery tickets at state lottery retailers, and to gamble at the state’s sole charitable casino. Charitable gambling is legal in Vermont and the state takes a liberal enough view of this law to not stand in the way of a real casino with poker and casino table games provided charities benefit. Horse racing is still legal here although that industry died off many years ago and there is nowhere to bet.

  • Does Vermont have any tribal gaming?

    While the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 did empower Indian tribes to offer real money tribal gaming on their own lands, this did not apply to all tribes, only federally regulated ones. The federal government does not have the legal power to allow gambling on state land, and Vermont is one of those states that do not have any federally regulated Indian tribes. Vermont was not forced to accept Indian gaming, and they have chosen not to.

  • How might Vermont gambling expand pretty easily?

    While there is no current prospect of Vermont changing their limited view of gambling to a more progressive one, seeing gambling in the state expand by way of legislation, there is another, easier way that Vermont could expand their casino gambling. There isn’t a need to legalize for-profit casinos when people can already offer casinos whose proceeds go to charity, and Vermont already has one of these casinos.

  • Is Vermont considering licensing any online gambling yet?

    Given that Vermont has continually refused to even allow their own state lottery tickets to be bought and sold online, this is not a state that is open at all to the idea of permitting any online gambling at this time. Some lotteries have progressed toward offering online slots and sports betting, but Vermont’s is definitely far away from such an idea. It could be a long time before Vermont rolls out the online poker, casino, and sports betting that people love to bet at.

  • Can Vermonters enjoy real money online gambling right now?

    Instead of waiting for who knows how long for Vermont to one day approve and regulate online gambling, many Vermonters simply choose to do it on sites that are regulated in other areas of the world. There’s no way for the state to tell if you are playing poker, casino, or betting on sports in other countries, and we will show you where all the best sites are out there among those who accept Vermonters.

References

Lead Writer: Toby is a very experienced online gambler who particularly enjoys sharing his knowledge with others and guiding them toward more enjoyment in their own play.