Vermont Casinos, Gambling, and Law Regulations: An Overview

There is almost no legal gambling in the state of Vermont. The state’s laws are stringent, and it doesn’t have a rich gambling history. There used to be a horse racing industry in Vermont with pari-mutuel betting legal at county fairs in 1959. It included pari-mutuel betting on races, as approved by the General Assembly bill.

On the other hand, all legal gambling in Vermont occurs at charity games and lottery. They passed the Act on November 2, 1976, and two years later, the first games took place. Since 1998, all proceeds go to the Education Fund. In 2017, Daily Fantasy Sports were deemed legal.

Between these milestones and after 2017, hardly any gambling regulations have been made or even had a chance of passing. Vermont does not have any casinos, neither commercial nor tribal. Additionally, the state does not have any poker rooms or sportsbooks.

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Gambling Laws in Vermont — The Law Overview

Like we have already mentioned, Vermont bans most forms of gambling. The state’s definition of gambling is quite a short one, and it stands as “winning or losing money or another valuable thing by play or hazard at any game.” It is extensive enough to cover any internet games, so offshore gambling is also against the law.

Any public gambling against the law is punishable as specified by the § 2133 Act. The fines vary from $10 to $200. If caught gambling, you can get sentenced to sixty days in jail. This includes casinos, regardless of they are commercial or tribal.

Poker is also illegal in the Green Mountain State, except if organized for charitable purposes. Public poker games, such as poker tournaments and casino nights, are allowed. However, you need a license to organize such events, and there are restrictions on the number of games that could be organized.

There is a limit on possible prizes as well. Winners are allowed to take up to $400 as a prize per game. The highest weekly prize should not go over $1,000, and the top monthly prize cannot be more than $5,000. Once a year, an award in the form of a motor vehicle, boat or firearm, not worth more than $50,000, can be offered. On one-game day, the total money prize cannot exceed $50,000.

Like we mentioned before, only nonprofit charitable organizations can operate gambling games in the Green Mountain State. Gambling games should have an educational, charitable or civic purpose. Under federal law, the organizations that qualify for tax-exempt status are fire departments, municipalities, schools, churches, fraternal organizations, and agricultural fairs.

Charitable gambling events

Any organization can hold an event twice a week. Nonprofit organizations can organize three-day gambling events only if the time interval between the games is 90 days. Additionally, the same location is not allowed to be used for a gambling event more than two times a week.

In contrast, “Casino Night” events can only be held once a calendar month. Agricultural fairs can be held more than two times a week and can have a function of a maximum of 12 consecutive days. Any profits made during these events, including beverages and food profits, must go to charitable causes, but only after paying out possible prizes and employees’ salaries.

Additional gambling restrictions say that no convicted felons can participate in charitable gambling events. Minors can work at the site, but only at food and beverages stands. Employees working at a particular gambling event are not allowed to participate in any of the games offered.

Social Gambling

The law does not have any loopholes that make room for social gambling in the Green Mountain State. That includes friendly bets on Sunday Night Football games or a weekly poker games with neighbors. These kinds of wagers and gatherings are discouraged by local authorities. However, the police are not prone to punishing ordinary people for small bets, but there are few home gambling busts on record.

  • 2134 Act dictates that “A person who has or keeps on premises owned or occupied by him implements or other things used in gambling and permits persons resorting to such premises to use such implements or things for the purpose of gambling shall be imprisoned not more than six months nor less than ten days or fined not more than $500.00 nor less than $10.00, or both.”

Furthermore, this means that any person found with card decks or chips from casinos in their possession or in their homes is breaking the law. This includes any old slot machines and gambling-related equipment and devices.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Even though Vermont is not a famous gambling state and has very strict regulations, it surprisingly adopted a bill on DFS that became legal in 2017. Players must be 18 years or older to bet on Daily Fantasy Sports. Many lawmakers opposed legalizing DFS. This is the reason why passing the DFS law was so important.

The § 136 Act defines a “fantasy sports contest” in the following way: “‘Fantasy sports contest’ means a virtual or simulated sporting event governed by a uniform set of rules adopted by a fantasy sports operator in which: (A) a fantasy sports player may earn one or more cash prizes or awards, the value of which a fantasy sports operator discloses in advance of the contest; (B) a fantasy sports player uses his or her knowledge and skill of sports data, performance, and statistics to create and manage a fantasy sports team; (C) a fantasy sports team earns fantasy points based on the sports performance statistics accrued by individual athletes or teams, or both, in real-world sporting events; (D) the outcome is determined by the number of fantasy points earned; and (E) the outcome is not determined by the score, the point spread, the performance of one or more teams, or the performance of an individual athlete.”

Other gambling events

In 2015, Vermont’s local lawmakers introduced video lottery in 25 bars across the state. It was a part of a pilot program, but it only lasted one year. They terminated it in 2016 and removed video lottery terminals from all bars. Many Vermont residents travel to neighboring states to participate in gambling events. Casino-style games are usually enjoyed in New Jersey, Connecticut or New York.

As previously mentioned, pari-mutuel betting at races was legal for at county fair for some time. Horse races were held at the Green Mountain Race Track in Pownal from 1963. In 1967, the track started hosting greyhound dog races. However, greyhound dog races became illegal in 1992 and the track shut down in 2008. Off-track betting is still possible at some bars and over the web.

Where to Gamble in Vermont?

Unfortunately for players, there are no casinos available in the Green Mountain State. There are no commercial casinos, tribal casinos, or racetracks. It is not possible to gamble anywhere else except at charitable gaming nights. Vermont residents interested in gambling in casinos must travel to neighboring states, and even to other countries crossing the Canadian border to visit Montreal.

The Vermont State Fair in Rutland once had a short horse racing event with pari-mutuel betting at the Green Mountain Race Track that was the only working track in the state.

There are no tribal casinos in Vermont since there are zero federally recognized Native American tribes. However, Vermont officially acknowledges four tribal organizations within its borders.

It does not seem possible that a land-based tribal or commercial casino will come to the Green Mountain State any time soon. State Representative Ronald Hubert has been trying to introduce legislation for establishing a casino in Vermont for over a decade. However, not one of his prepositions passed the committee stage.

FAQ

Is online gambling allowed in Vermont?

Generally, online gambling is illegal in Vermont. Online poker games, casinos, sports betting and such are not allowed and are punishable by law. However, betting on horse races online is legal.

What is the legal gambling age for players in Vermont?

The legal playing age for Vermont residents is 18 years old. This relates only to the lottery since only the lottery is permitted.

Is betting on greyhound dog races allowed?

Betting on greyhound dog races has been illegal since 1992.

Are table games legal in Vermont?

Table games are not legal in Vermont. The only licensed table games are those organized for charitable purposes.

What games can you gamble on in Vermont?

You can only gamble on lottery games, bingo games, raffles, and similar style games. Online betting on horse races is also permitted.

Are Daily Fantasy Sports legal in Vermont?

Yes, they are. Daily Fantasy Sports became legal in 2017 after a long effort to legalize them.

Is horse racing legal in Vermont?

Yes, it is, but there are currently no open horse racing tracks in the state.

Is off-track betting legal in Vermont?

Yes, it is. There are plenty of bars that accept bets in person and over the phone. You can also place bets over the web and via mobile apps.