Vermont Poker / Gambling Laws

A Guide to Poker in the State of Vermont

Vermont Gambling Laws

In this guide to poker in Vermont first you can find a brief summary of gambling in the State before going into the laws that particularly apply to poker. Next what live games there are is covered and to wrap things up the status of online poker in Vermont is looked at.

A Brief Overview of Gambling in Vermont

Throughout Vermont’s history there has been very little gambling allowed. Pari-mutuel betting at horse racing tracks has been legal since 1959 although with racing no longer conducted the regulation is of no current use.

The only active form of gambling is therefore charity games which have been permitted since 1976. A State lottery currently runs with the profits going to the Education Fund, and many other charity games are allowed including poker tournaments.

With no commercial casinos many residents travel into Connecticut. Here you can find the luxurious resorts of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, which cater to pretty much all gambling desires.

Is Poker Legal in Vermont?

Chapter 51, Section 2133 of the State Laws describes some activities that are counted as a gambling act and the penalties.

“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 sixty days, or both.”

Just the fact that betting on cards will class poker as gambling without getting into the skill game vs  game of chance debate. As the laws continue, simply anything you can bet on is included as gambling.

As the only exception to this is charity gambling then all forms of poker, with the exception of fund raising events, are classed as illegal.

Where Vermont Players can Enjoy Live Poker

With no casinos, either State regulated or tribal operating, players only options for real action is to travel to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun. These Connecticut resorts offer a great choice of games and tournaments for all stakes, and even attract major tours such as the WPT. Other surrounding States such as New York and Massachusetts are on the verge of opening up their own casinos so soon there will be a great selection of venues just outside Vermont.

Home games are not legal although law enforcement generally turns a blind eye to these providing they remain friendly games between acquaintances and are not run as a business. Those who think they can get away with running bigger games and profiting from the rake will likely get caught out quickly and face some harsh penalties for organizing such event.

Free to enter bar leagues also run in Vermont and attract a loyal following. Despite having no entry fee these games offer small prizes supplied by the sponsors or businesses running the event. The venues profit from the extra food and drink sales generated.

Finally there are charity poker events which run frequently. These generally donate all the entries to the supported cause and provide players with prizes donated by the sponsors. These can be run as stand-alone events or in combination with charity casino nights.

The Status of Online Poker in Vermont

As online poker came after the gambling laws of Vermont, they existing Statute is considered broad enough to cover internet gambling, therefore making it illegal. Strictly speaking this remains opinion as no one has yet been arrested for playing online poker in Vermont, let got to hear a court’s interpretation on the law.

Many offshore poker sites still accept players from Vermont. These sites operate legally, mostly out of the Caribbean islands where they argue the right to provide games to US players under free trade acts. While there have been Federal restrictions preventing some financial transactions to and from these sites there is nothing specifically written which prohibits players using them.

Given Vermont’s lack of gambling outside of charitable causes, there appears little chance State regulation of online poker will come anytime soon.

In Summary – Vermont Poker

With no legal games other than charity poker and free bar leagues, Vermont offers poker players very little. Residents who are looking for real poker action find themselves travelling to Connecticut or playing on offshore sites in order to fulfil these needs.

With little flexibility in the laws, or voices speaking favorably for online poker the chances of regulated games in Vermont looks remote.