Vermont is one of the smallest and least populated states in the union. Plus, nearly 80 percent of the state is forest. That means a lot of trees, 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. Vermont residents who like to gamble in casinos must travel to do so, heading to neighboring states, like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and even across the Canadian border to Montreal.
There is a state lottery in Vermont, and legislators have played around with the idea of different lottery games and where and when residents should be able to purchase tickets. Still, the lotto remains the only real-money gambling operating in Vermont at this time.
There are no land-based casinos in Vermont. The closest thing to a slot machine was the electronic state lottery terminals that offered lottery tickets and a small variety of lottery-style video games. The terminals were installed in 25 different bars across the state in 2015 as a part of a pilot project. They were removed when the state made them illegal a year later.
Pari-mutuel gaming has been legal in the state since 1959, but there are no longer any racetracks operating. 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 racing events for four years. It then replaced them with greyhound racing. The track closed for good in 1992.
The Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort tribal casino in New York is among the closest casinos to Vermont’s largest city of Burlington. It’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the city. The casino features 130,000 square feet of gaming space and more than 1,600 slot machines. Casino gaming is also available in Montreal across the Canadian border, less than a two-hour drive away.
The Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun tribal casinos in Connecticut are within four-and-a-half hours from Burlington. Plus, Atlantic City, where casino gambling has been legal since 1978, is a seven-hour drive away.
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. Hence, it does not appear a land-based casino will be coming to the state anytime soon.
Online gambling options
It is illegal to operate an online casino in Vermont. However, nearby states like New Jersey and Delaware have both established legal, licensed, and regulated online gaming markets where visitors to the states can play online slots.
Vermont residents and visitors may be able to access any number of offshore online casinos that offer online slots. However, getting money on and off the sites may prove difficult and runs afoul of federal law. Any form of gambling in Vermont could also be considered a misdemeanor, and the gambler could be subject to a fine.
Former Governor Peter Shumlin had expressed opposition to federal anti-iGaming 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. The issue of online gaming does not appear to be on any upcoming agenda for Vermont lawmakers.
Social casino site options
Since there’s no real money involved, Vermont residents or visitors are free to play on social casino sites all they want.
Social casino games are a multi-billion dollar market. The most popular are app-based games for Android and iOS operating systems, which you can download to a mobile device. There’s also Facebook-based apps that are operated through the social media site.
These include casino-style games developed by industry leaders, such as Zynga, Activision Blizzard, Korean Nexon, and Supercell. Social gaming revenues reached more than $1.5 in the United States in 2016. However, Asia remains the largest market with $2.2 billion in revenue in 2015 and more than 500 million reported users.
The Vermont Lottery
Vermont voters passed a referendum to establish a state-run lottery in 1976. A year later, the Vermont Lottery Commission was established, and the state lottery began operating in 1978. In that first year of operations, the commission held its first legalized 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 were poured directly into the state’s General Fund. However, in 1998, lawmakers decreed that all profits from the Vermont Lottery 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 gaming.
In addition to its own state lottery, Vermont also takes part in several Tri-State lottery operations with Maine and New Hampshire. These include the popular Powerball, Megabucks, and Mega Millions lotteries.
State legal environment
|Permitted/Offered?||Notes & Restrictions|
|Casinos||No||There are no land-based casinos in Vermont|
|Online Gambling||No||No legislation forthcoming|
|Lottery||Yes||Established in 1978|
|Charitable or House-Based Gambling||Yes||Licensed charity gambling nights only|
|Minimum Gambling Age||18, for lottery only.|