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Vermont’s gambling laws are not anywhere as clearly defined as they are in a lot of states, and they don’t even go to the trouble of providing any definitions at all for things like what constitute gambling or betting under the law.
However, as we will see, such clear definitions are not really necessary if the scope of the law is large enough, and Vermont’s anti gambling law is a perfect definition of this. While it may lack a lot of specifics, if you’re just looking to prohibit betting on games, this does the job quite beautifully. Let’s have a look at how the law reads here:
“S. 2141: Winning or losing by gambling:
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.” (1)
So there is no need to define gambling as it isn’t even mentioned in the section, as it addresses all forms of betting, whether a player wins or loses. Therefore it is the act of betting itself that is a crime. The only other stipulation is that it be made in association with a game, and while game is not defined, we can rely on the standard definition to include the game of poker for sure.
This certainly appears to be on the overbroad side, as it could also be seen to include participants in sporting events who were paid based upon the outcome of the event, for instance a boxing match or performance bonuses paid to professional athletes, but it’s not likely that it would be used this way, and it certainly ropes in all forms of betting on the outcome of all games.
How This Affects Playing Poker For Money In Vermont
Not that it is needed, but Vermont goes further by specifying that playing certain games for money at certain establishments is illegal as well:
“S. 2133 At Gaming House:
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.” (2)
Since the gaming statutes don’t provide any definitions at all, we are left to go by common definitions of what would constitute a common gaming or gambling house, and this may be a bit problematic, as this would seem to only include establishments whose sole function is to provide gaming, and not other types who may be set up as something else primarily, like a bar, but may offer gaming as well.
This really doesn’t matter though because based upon the law as set out in Section 2141, it is already a crime to bet on games, regardless of where this betting takes place. The only thing that Section 2133 really adds is that those who place these bets at gaming houses become subject to imprisonment as well.
So the bottom line here is that betting on poker or any other game is not permitted under any circumstances, and players are subject to at the very least a fine of up to $200, and up to 60 days in jail if this betting occurs at a gaming house.
The law here does not contain any provisions at all to exclude any forms of gambling, such as social gambling, as is the case in some other states, and those found to be gambling in a private, social setting would be subject to the same law, as would be the case with gambling on the internet as well.
If a statute makes all forms of betting illegal, this would include these other forms and there is no need to mention them specifically.
However, Vermont at one time used to have a section dealing specifically with gambling not occurring in gaming houses, in other words social gambling, which had a lesser penalty of $5 for such a crime, but this section has been repealed, suggesting at least that there is not a will to prosecute such forms of gambling, in spite of the fact that the reading of the main section against gambling could be interpreted as including this form. (3)
Playing Poker In Vermont
Vermont does not have any regulated casinos or poker rooms at all at this time, and players have to travel to nearby states or to Canada to engage in live poker, apart from home games of course.
As far as internet poker playing goes, no one has ever been prosecuted in Vermont for playing poker for money online, and there is no reason to suspect this will change, as this is an extremely difficult matter to enforce, even if the will exists. Washington State for instance has enough of a will to make internet gambling a felony, yet no one has been prosecuted there for this law, so even in this state it’s more a show than anything else.
The State of Washington has managed to scare away all of the offshore poker rooms though that offer play to Americans from select states, there are states where some but not all prohibit residents of that state from playing on their sites, but no site accepts players from Washington. So their strong prohibition has had some practical effect for sure.
No online poker room that accepts players from most states has any issues with Vermont residents playing on their sites though, and therefore players from Vermont have several good options available to them. My top recommendation is of course Ignition Poker, which offers anonymous tables, Zone Poker, fishy cash games and fast Bitcoin deposit and withdrawal options!
The Best Poker Site for Vermont Residents? Ignition Poker.