Can I Play Online Poker in Vermont?
2021 Update: Can I Play Online Poker in Vermont?
Online poker in Vermont still looks like it’s far away.
Despite that, there have been some promising developments. Some Vermont legislators seem intent on passing online and mobile sports betting. With states looking to increase revenue, this proposal might have more traction than it did in previous years. A 2019 bill was floating around the House of Representatives but failed to make it out of the committee.
State Sen. Richard Sears didn’t waste any time this year. On Jan. 7, the first day of this year’s legislative session, he introduced bill S. 213. This would legalize sports betting in Vermont. Since Vermont is one of the few states without casinos or any physical gambling, it would make it an exclusively online thing. The Vermont Board of Liquor and Lottery would regulate sports betting and anyone over the age of 18 could bet.
If the law passes, it could be the first step towards legalizing online poker. Since poker has been ruled to be a game of skill at the federal level, it could be something the state might look into next. Since there are no land-based casinos or any Native American casinos to oppose it like in other states, online poker could have a quick path to legalization.
Online Poker in Vermont – Where Does it Stand?
That’s a good question.
Vermont is one of the few states that does not have any kind of land-based gambling. That means no race tracks, no casinos, no slot machines, no nothing. The only thing they have is a state lottery.
Interestingly enough, Vermont has stood up for gambling rights. The Federal Wire Act of 1961 has been used as grounds to oppose online gaming and online poker. Despite not having either, Vermont opposed it on the federal level. It was one of the few states to do it. It did so to protect the state lottery.
Now Vermont is considering legalizing online sports betting. Since the state doesn’t have any land-based casinos that it could be tethered to, this would allow it to develop an online-first approach. This could prove beneficial to online poker since it would give the state a roadmap to make it happen. This has the added benefit of not having to face opposition from land-based casinos that some states have faced.
So it seems like poker is standing in no-man’s land. No one’s fighting for it yet, but it has no feverish opponents either. It’s just waiting there to be discovered.
Poker and Gambling Laws in Vermont
The laws aren’t very clear when it comes to defining gambling. The closest thing we could find in their statutes states:
“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.”
Most states have an actual definition of “gambling” which makes the law a little more clear. Vermont doesn’t. This is another good sign for online poker. Despite it being dubbed a game of skill, Vermont’s seemingly apathetic stance towards gaming in general makes it more likely to be open to regulate online poker in the future. Vermont is a tiny state though. It’s the second-least populous state in the United States. That means any state-run online poker state would need to join an interstate compact to have a decent player pool
Legal Gambling in Vermont
The state doesn’t offer much gambling. As we mentioned, there are no land-based casinos, pari-mutuel betting or horse tracks. There are only two types of gambling that are up-and-running in Vermont. The two main forms offered are:
- State Lottery
- Charitable Gaming
The state lottery was established in 1976 and is run by the Vermont Lottery Commission. They paid back their initial $250,000 start-up loan within 18 months of being in service. One of their main lottery laws in their statutes, Chapter 51 §2101, states the following:
“A person who sets up or promotes a lottery for money or other property, or disposes of money or property by a lottery, and a person aiding or concerned in so doing, or who knowingly allows premises owned or occupied by him or her or under his or her control to be used for that purpose, or by persons raffling or using a game of chance for money or property, shall be imprisoned and fined”
Charitable gaming is legal but closely watched and regulated by the state government. For a complete guide on charitable gaming in Vermont click here; it outlines the rules and regulations in detail. It mentions only bona fide nonprofit organizations that have engaged in charitable, educational, religious or civic activities may operate games of chance. Also, the gambling law allows nonprofits to operate games of chance like raffles, bingo, card games and “break-open” tickets.
Can I Play PokerStars in Vermont?
PokerStars is one of the biggest online poker sites out there and has started to make a comeback in the United States. You can play it in a few states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but it’s currently not available in Vermont. This might change in the future, but for now there are tons of great alternatives. Sites like Americas Cardroom and Ignition Poker accept players from all across the United States, including Vermont. If you want to see more sites, then check out some of our top-reviewed sites below:
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