Vermont is one of the smallest and least-populated states in the union. Plus, nearly 80% of the state consists of forests. That means a lot of trees and maple syrup, and little in the way of casinos and gambling. In fact, gambling is against the law. There are no commercial casinos, tribal casinos, or racetracks. Online casinos and online poker sites are also a no-go in Vermont. Vermont residents who wish to gamble in casinos (or online) must travel to do so, heading to neighboring states, like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and even across the Canadian border to Montreal.
But maybe one day it will change. Gov. Phil Scott, a mobile sports betting advocate, is pressing for a committee to study legal sports wagering in Vermont. If it happens, legal sports betting could potentially open the door for more legal online gambling in Vermont. Maybe.
To be fair, gambling options are not impossible to find in Vermont, and we’ll take you through all the places and ways you can gamble in the Green Mountain State.
Play online slots or casino games in Vermont
Is online gambling legal in Vermont?
It depends on what you mean. Horse betting sites like TVG are legal to play in Vermont, as are daily fantasy sports contests (which have been legal since 2017). But if you are referring to online casinos or online sportsbooks, the answer is a definitive no. In fact, the only forms of gambling legal in Vermont are the lottery, charitable games, and pari-mutuel wagering. The Vermont government puts it quite simply:
“The gambling law allows nonprofits to operate games of chance like raffles, bingo, card games and “break-open” tickets. Slot machines and other mechanical gambling devices such as Cherry Master or Money Machines are prohibited.”
Furthermore, Vermont classifies gambling as follows:
“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.”
Additionally, Vermont sets fines for a person or corporation that illegally sells, leases, or rents cards, dice, or table games or any gambling machine “into which may be inserted a piece of money or other object.” While online gambling is not specifically mentioned in the statutes, it is understood to be included.
Are online casinos legal in Vermont?
Real money casinos are illegal in Vermont. To play on one of those, you will need to travel to Pennsylvania or (soon) Connecticut. However, sweepstakes and social casinos are legal. Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Slots are social casino sites while Funzpoints is a sweepstakes site.
Some of the more common online slots you’ll find at sweepstakes and social casino sites include:
- Stampede Fury
- Lightning Nudge
- Dancing Gold
- Golden Oz
- Diamond Panther
LuckyLand Slots offers daily slot tournaments, and there are more than a dozen progressive jackpot slots at both Chumba and LuckyLand.
Is online poker legal in Vermont?
No, online poker is illegal in Vermont, as is all real money online gambling. You won’t find PokerStars available in Vermont. Vermont statutes are fairly specific on the games allowed (or not allowed):
“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 60 days, or both.”
While it doesn’t specifically say poker, the description combined with the earlier statute means poker or any other card game is not permitted.
But you are not without poker options. For instance, Chumba has a Jacks or Better video poker game. There’s also Global Poker, a sister site to Chumba and LuckyLand. You can find all the classic poker games and plenty of tables including unique titles like Crazy Pineapple.
Will Vermont regulate online gambling in the future?
No, there is no movement currently to legalize Vermont online gambling. Former Gov. Peter Shumlin had expressed opposition to federal anti-online gambling movements and was interested in preserving the states’ rights on the issue. However, he did not seek re-election in 2016, and Phil Scott won the gubernatorial race. Although Scott is for sports betting in Vermont, the issue of online gaming does not appear to be on any upcoming agenda for Vermont lawmakers.
Vermont keeps things focused on charitable gaming and nonprofits.
“Only bona fide nonprofit organizations that have engaged in charitable, educational, religious or civic activities in Vermont may operate games of chance. Bona fide nonprofits include nonprofit corporations that qualify for tax exempt status under federal law (501(c) status), churches, schools, fire departments, municipalities, fraternal organizations and agricultural fairs. The nonprofit must have been engaged in charitable activities for at least one year prior to the game of chance.”
And prizes? What if you win prizes? They won’t be extravagant. According to the state of Vermont:
“As a general rule, prizes are limited to $400 per game. A $1,000 prize may be offered at one game each day. A $5,000 prize may be offered once a month. A motor vehicle, boat, or firearm worth up to $50,000 may be offered as a prize once a year. Exception: A nonprofit organization may exceed the prize limitations four days per year, so long as the days are at least 20 days apart. The total prize money offered for all games on that day must not be more than $50,000.”
So in summary, don’t expect legal Vermont online casinos anytime soon. Things could change though as more states near Vermont offer legal online gambling, moving tax dollars away from Vermont.
Legal online gambling vs. offshore sites
Residents of and visitors to Vermont might go online and find what appear to be legal casino games to play, but this is not the case. By patronizing offshore websites, customers are taking several risks. First of all, they cannot be assured that the games that they play are fair. If they’re not, customers have no consumer protection or recourse. The American legal system cannot help you, as these sites are beyond the reach of US laws and Vermont statutes.
And then there’s the matter of the extensive personal information you provided to an unregulated business, such as your Social Security number and your credit card. The sites are unregulated and, therefore, are not checked for site fairness and security, putting you at risk of hacking and identity theft. Be smart and don’t play on these sites in Vermont.
How to gamble responsibly in Vermont
While gambling might be scarce in Vermont, the state is not scarce on help for gambling addiction. Its move to promote responsible gambling via lottery proceeds is a sign the state does take the problem seriously. There are many places where you can seek assistance in Vermont, and they’re all ready to lend a hand.
First off, the Vermont Lottery Commission has a resource called the Howard Center. The center is in collaboration with the lottery and provides a helpline as well as dedicated clinicians. All services are confidential and free of charge; you can call the helpline at 802-488-6000.
In addition, several national sites are available in the state and have group meetings and/or chats:
National Problem Gambling Helpline
- Call: 1-800-522-4700
- Text: 1-800-522-4700
- Chat: ncpgambling.org/chat
A fellowship of people who share their experience, strength and hope with one another that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from a gambling problem. Visit www.gamblersanonymous.org.
A self-help organization for the spouses, families or close friends of compulsive gamblers. Visit www.gam-anon.org
A 24/7 moderated online peer support forum. Go to www.gamtalk.org.
Who regulates gambling in Vermont?
This is a tricky question because gambling is mostly limited to charitable games so there are multiple commissions and agencies that oversee different parts of what gambling is legal. The Vermont Lottery Commission regulates the state lottery. Horse betting is under the purview of the Vermont Racing Commission. All other charitable gambling falls under the office of the attorney general or the lottery commission.
What is the legal gambling age in Vermont?
You can play the lottery in Vermont at age 18. To bet on the horses, you must be 18 as well.
Legal gambling in Vermont
As noted earlier, Vermont sanctions a state lottery and house-based charitable games as licensed on an individual, nonprofit basis. There is also legal horse betting on apps such as TVG. And that’s it.
Vermont voters passed a referendum to establish a state-run lottery in 1976. A year later, the state established the Vermont Lottery Commission, and the state lottery began operating in 1978. In that first year of operations, the commission held its first legal state lottery and sold its first instant scratch-and-win tickets. Two years later, it began running a Pick 3 online game.
For the first 10 years of lottery operation in Vermont, all profits went directly into the state’s general fund. However, in 1998, lawmakers decreed that all profits from the Vermont Lottery would go into the state’s education fund. The Vermont Lottery is currently run by a small staff of just 21 full-time employees. There’s oversight from the Vermont Lottery Commission and its five commissioners, each of whom are appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate. Most profits still go through to the state’s Education Fund, but some are now earmarked to promote responsible gambling.
In addition to its own state lottery, Vermont also takes part in several multi-state lottery operations with Maine and New Hampshire. These include the popular Powerball, Megabucks, and Mega Millions games.
Are there casinos in Vermont?
No, there are no casinos in Vermont, not even tribal casinos. Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos in Connecticut remain the most alluring possibility for Vermont residents looking to play.
Horse betting in Vermont
Yes, horse racing and horse betting are legal in Vermont. There are no racetracks in Vermont. That may sound confounding but essentially, pari-mutuel wagering has been legal in Vermont since 1959, but the racetracks fell under hard times. At one time, the Vermont State Fair in Rutland held a short horse racing meet with pari-mutuel betting, but the Green Mountain Race Track in Pownal was really the state’s only true track. It opened in 1963 and held thoroughbred and standardbred horse races for four years. It then replaced them with greyhound racing. The track closed for good in 1992.
Off-track betting is also prohibited in Vermont so the only option nowadays for betting on the horses is online. There are apps that players can use to bet on horse racing, and one of the most popular is TVG.
History of gambling in Vermont
The best summary of the status of legal gambling in Vermont is probably this one: In 2015, State Rep. Ronald Hubert introduced legislation to allow the establishment of a casino in Vermont for the sixth straight year. For almost a decade, he has pushed the idea that a casino could bolster state coffers. However, none of his proposed bills have ever come out of the committee stage. Not only are land-based casinos not going to happen, but the state as a whole is keeping things charitable.
In addition, while former Gov. Shumlin had expressed some interest in exploring online gambling, he did not seek re-election in 2016. The issue of online gambling does not appear to be on any upcoming agenda for Vermont lawmakers. Lottery and nonprofit games took center stage in 1976 when they were approved via referendum.
Therefore, the history of gambling in Vermont is not a rich one. A pari-mutuel industry is legal, but there are no more races. There are raffles and a lottery, but no casinos and no OTBs.