Vermont has never seriously considered regulating or prohibiting online poker by statute. The state’s Attorney General has opined that “the purpose of the gambling laws is to ensure that only nonprofit organizations operate games of chance and to ensure that the proceeds from the games go to charity,” which would argue against the legality of online poker in the state.
It all comes back to jurisdictional questions, as it does for many states without statutes explicitly addressing this area of law. Since Vermont’s gambling statutes are almost certainly broad enough to cover poker, the question is whether playing online poker on computer servers located outside of the state. There’s no question that an online poker site operating from within the state would be illegal.
Vermont, like its neighbor to the east New Hampshire, has a surprisingly restrictive set of laws governing gambling in the state. Apart from the lottery and break-open tickets, nearly every form of gambling is illegal in Vermont. Title 13, Chapter 51 of the Vermont Statutes covers gambling crimes in exhaustive fashion.
For example, VS §2133 criminalizes playing cards for gain in a gambling house; §2141 criminalizes winning or losing money by playing any game or by betting on the play of any game. Those statutes are clearly broad enough to cover poker.
There is no framework for legal and regulated poker in the state, outside of some minor charitable gaming statutes. Those statutes specify that certain types of gambling can be offered by charitable, educational, religious or civic non-profit organizations. Severe restrictions on the types of prizes such organizations can award under the statutes makes poker impractical. There are no state-regulated casinos, nor are there any tribal gaming operations.
Vermont’s gambling laws are restrictive enough that they may even cover home games. Although many of the statutes are aimed at operators or establishments that are used exclusively for gambling, VS §2141 doesn’t make such a distinction, nor does it create any exception for a social or home game.